Intermediate Strategy Guide: Kill Japan First

  • 2021 '20 '19 '18 '17 '16

    INTRODUCTION

    Several of my gaming buddies have wondered if it’s really possible to win at 1942 Second Edition as the Allies while concentrating on Japan. Assuming equally skilled players on both teams, and a bid for the Allies in the general neighborhood of 12 IPCs, I would say the answer is “Definitely yes.” Taking down Japan is more complicated than taking down Germany, but if done properly, it’s no less likely to succeed. In this post, I’ll try to highlight some of the most important ideas for a successful Allied attack on Japan. If you disagree with my ideas, or if you have extra ideas to add, please chime in!

    I will start by going over some of the recommended opening moves, explaing why I think these moves are crucial, and showing how they set you up for a successful attack. Then, I’ll move on to middlegame strategy, explaining how to a pick a route across the Pacific to get to Japan, how your choice of route should shape your choices about what to build, and how to know when it’s safe to advance one sea zone closer to Tokyo. Finally, I’ll briefly cover how to handle the European side of the map when attempting to Kill Japan First, and sketch out what it looks like to win against Japan.

    OPENING MOVES: KILLING THE CHINESE TRANSPORT

    The Japanese start with two transports – one just off the coast of China, and one in their home sea zone, near Tokyo. The transport off the coast of China is guarded by only a single destroyer, and it’s in range of the British fighter, carrier, and cruiser that start in the Indian sea zone.

    Unless you are going to attack the Japanese fleet in Sea Zone 37 (discussed in the next section) you must kill this transport. It is not optional, it is not a minor issue, and it is not a matter of style. If you don’t kill the transport and you don’t kill the SZ 37 fleet, then any competent Japanese player will beat you in 90%+ of their games, no matter what else you do. Killing one transport doesn’t seem like a huge deal given that Japan can just build four more on it’s first turn…but because the Chinese transport is already on the board, and already in a forward-deployed position, it punches far above its weight. The second transport will turbo-charge an early Japanese attack on India, allowing Japan to take India before you have a chance to reinforce it with significant numbers of Allied fighters, and even if Japan doesn’t want to attack India, the extra transport will accelerate Japan’s economy – being able to load more troops onto the mainland on turn 1 will mean more income for Japan on turn 2, which means even more troops will hit the mainland on turn 3, which means more income for Japan on turn 4…there’s a kind of compound interest effect at work.

    So: make sure you send two units (not just one unit) to kill the transport. If you’re playing a full luck game, I recommend using the cruiser and the fighter, not the carrier and the fighter – sending just the carrier and fighter gives the transports a 15% chance to live, which is way too high. Using the cruiser and fighter drops the odds to 4%, which is more reasonable – although I also think it’s fine to use all three units, which drops Japan’s odds to 2% and has a 62% chance of leaving you with all three units surviving in the Chinese sea zone, representing a major inconvenience to Japan. Sure, they can wipe you out, but that might not be what they wanted to use their units for. Knocking out the entire Indian fleet without losing 3+ Japanese fighters is likely to pull so many Japanese units out of position that the Americans will be able to stack in the Solomon Islands on turn 1, a full turn ahead of the usual schedule.

    OPENING MOVES: ATTACKING SEA ZONE 37

    A weird quirk of the 1942.2 map is that Japan starts with a carrier, 2 fighters, and a battleship in the East Indies with no escort ships to help defend them. By attacking that fleet with the combined British fleets from both India and Australia, plus bringing in the British fighter from Egypt, you can knock out 2 of Japan’s 4 starting capital ships, making it much easier for America to win the naval war in the Pacific and push west toward Japan’s core territories early enough to make a difference in the war.

    Some players will combine the naval attack with an amphibious assault, using both transports and 2 infantry from India plus 2 infantry from Australia to attack the 2 Japanese infantry in the East Indies. Often players will bid an extra sub in the Indian Ocean to boost the odds of the attack succeeding (from 55% to 80%).

    I’m not a huge fan of this opening, partly because it’s so heavily dependent on the dice, and partly because it has such a limited upside. Yes, if you win, you can knock out expensive Japanese capital ships and steal 4 income from Japan. But even if you bring the extra sub and roll better-than-average, you’ll have something like 1 sub, 1 CV, 2 ftr left in Sea Zone 37 protecting your 2 transports. Japan can immediately stack up in Sea Zone 36 (the coast of Thailand, one sea zone away) with 1 BB, 1 CV, 1 CA, 2 ftr, 1 DD, and 2 loaded transports. The Japanese can also immediately support their fleet with another 2 ftr, 1 bmr that can carry out missions in China and then land in Thailand, plus 1 sub that can lurk in the Philippines, ready to support a J2 attack.

    Meanwhile, you’ve left India weakened by taking 2 infantry off of the subcontinent, and your fleet is hopelessly outclassed, so you have two options, neither of them good. Option 1 is to bring the survivors of the East Indies campaign (usually about 2) back to India with your fleet and land your fighters in India. India will be safe (for now), but the Japanese will kill your fleet and your transports, retake the East Indies on turn 2, stack in Burma, and have an extra transport relative to where they’d be if you had just attacked the Chinese transport instead of attacking Sea Zone 37. This is the best case scenario for the Allies – in total, you’ve probably killed a Japanese CV, BB, SS, DD, & 2 fighters while stealing 4 income for one turn. Meanwhile, you used up 6 points of bid for a sub that got killed in battle, failed to trade Burma, and failed to sink a Japanese DD and transport. Add it all up, and your net gains are worth about 55 IPCs, even with above-average rolls. That’s a lot of money, but in my opinion it’s not quite enough to justify the risks of the campaign. After all, you might roll below-average on your initial attack, leaving the Japanese BB and CV intact with a loss of, e.g., only 2 fighters, and failing to take the East Indies at all. That would leave you with net losses of about 45 IPCs, not even counting the probable loss of India on turn 2.

    Option 2 is to leave the East Indies infantry in place, run away with your most of your fleet to southern Australia, and send both of your fighters from the carrier back to India for defense. Assuming you were smart enough to pull back the infantry from Persia and Burma to protect India and you built 3 infantry in India on your first and second turns, that leaves you with 9 infantry, 1 fighter, and an AAA gun protecting India on J2 against a force of something like 4 inf, 2 art, 1 tnk, 4 ftr, 1 bmr, 1 CA, 1 BB – giving you only 30% odds of holding India on J2. Sure, you could up those odds somewhat by sending reinforcements from Russia – but with 9 points of your bid going to an Egyptian infantry and an Indian sub, plus one Russian fighter going to Egypt on R1, plus the other Russian fighter that really should go to Szechuan to protect the Flying Tigers…how much more can you ask of the Russians?

    If you want, you can dial back this opening by using the Indian transport to ferry troops from Egypt to India, and skipping the attack on the East Indies land territory. That leaves you with more options, since India won’t be so vulnerable – but again, it’s a luck-dependent strategy that can lose you the game on the first turn (by throwing away both eastern British fleets without accomplishing any strategic goals), but doesn’t really have the potential to win the game on the first turn (because even if you kill 2 of the Japanese capital ships, they still have 2 others, and can generally afford to build more warships as needed).

    OPENING MOVES: DEFENDING EGYPT

    If you are planning an attack on Sea Zone 37, then you must make absolutely sure that your starting fighter in Egypt survives a G1 attack. The only ways to reinforce Egypt prior to G1 are to put a bid unit there, and to fly in a Russian fighter. I recommend that you do both unless you know your opponent is cautious to a fault. If you only bid the infantry but don’t send the Russian fighter, Germany can attack Egypt on G1 with 55% odds of killing your fighter. If you only send the fighter but don’t bid the Egyptian infantry, Germany has 40% odds of killing both the Egyptian and Russian fighters – still too high, given the stakes.

    Defending Egypt also has the advantage of…defending Egypt, forcing the Germans to either stop at Libya for a while, or make a risky, inefficient attack on Trans-Jordan. If Germany stops at Libya on G1, then on B1 you can walk the infantry in Trans-Jordan over to Egypt and maybe leave your two British fighters in Egypt for one more turn to continue to delay the German advance. What you can’t afford to do is take units from Persia or India over to Egypt by transport. If anything, consider moving in the other direction – use the transport to pull two units from Egypt to India, retreat your Egyptian units south into Sudan, and let Germany have Egypt without a fight on G2. You can always fight on for the rest of Africa, reinforcing with a transport from Britain or Eastern US into Morocco and/or French West Africa as circumstances allow.

    Whereas in a KGF game it makes sense to sacrifice the long-term health of India to shut down Germany’s Africa campaign in order to deny Germany crucial income, and so you can afford to plan on a B1 counter-attack in Egypt that uses troops from India and Persia to re-conquer Egypt, in a Kill Japan First game you need all available resources in India. By turn 3, you want India to have a few offensive units (1-2 artillery, 1-2 tanks, 1-2 British fighters), plus enough infantry to support them on a raid, plus enough infantry to leave behind in India that you can be confident of surviving an early amphibious assault by Japan. The idea is to force Japan to either tie down significant resources defending Burma / Yunnan / Thailand (collectively worth 4 IPC, and all within two moves of India), or to concede income to the British by letting the British trade or even keep them. You can’t put pressure on Japan from India in the opening if you’re diverting Indian troops to defend Egypt. Bare survival isn’t enough – you want to have a striking force in India.

    OPENING MOVES: STACKING RUSSIANS IN SIBERIA

    One sad truth about Kill Japan First that is hard to accept is that it takes an extreme level of reinforcement for the Russians to successfully stack Buryatia on R1. It cannot be done on the cheap. Even if you bid an infantry in all three eastern territories (Soviet Far East, Buryatia, and Yakut), and move the entire infantry stack to Buryatia, you still only have 8 inf – which the Japanese can crush by attacking with 4 inf, 1 tnk, 2 ftr, 1 bomber + 1 BB bombardment, giving 78% odds for Japan to take Buryatia with a land unit. If you really want to stack Buryatia, you need to bid a land unit in all three eastern territories, move the entire stack to Buryatia, and fly in a Russian fighter from Karelia to reinforce the infantry stack, which drops Japan’s odds of a taking Buryatia to only 40%, and guarantees that Japan will take heavily losses in the air even if it does win. If you’re going to bother to put in that much effort, you may as well also send a tank to Sinkiang on R1 – if Japan doesn’t adequately defend Manchuria, then you can take Manchuria on R2 with 8 inf, 1 tnk, 1 ftr.

    All of this assumes that you’re killing the second Japanese transport with the British fighter on UK1 – if you leave Japan with two transports (e.g., because you’re attacking SZ 37), then you can’t afford to stack Buryatia at all on the first turn, full stop.

    If you don’t want to stack Buryatia, evacuating the Russian Pacific coast altogether and stacking in Yakut is perfectly reasonable – you can bring in the two infantry from Evenki to get up to 7 infantry even without a bid. I like to bid 1 artillery in Yakut to help support the stack and send over 1 tank from Archangel, leaving me with a stack of 7 inf, 1 art, 1 tnk in Yakut. Since you own Buryatia (for now), Japan can’t put planes into the territory on its first turn, so they can put a maximum of 5 land units into Buryatia on J1 – which you can easily destroy with your 7 inf, 1 art, 1 tnk and still have enough survivors (on average, 3 inf, 1 art, 1 tnk) to make a counter-attack very expensive for Japan. Japan can’t afford to put 5 land units into Buryatia on turn 1, lose them all, and destroy another 5 Russian land units in Buryatia on turn 2 without stalling out in virtually all other theaters.

    If you stack in Yakut and Japan takes the Soviet Far East and/or Buryatia lightly, with only 1 infantry, you can probably afford to trade back one territory, but without air support, light trading is not healthy for Russia, and if you split your forces or whittle them down too heavily, then you will be forced to retreat. Consider landing one fighter in Archangel on R1 so that that fighter has the option of heading east on R2 if the situation calls for it.

    OPENING MOVES: REINFORCING CHINA

    China – and specifically Szechuan – needs reinforcements in a Kill Japan First opening, for two reasons. First, there’s a lovely American fighter sitting in Szechuan, and if you protect it for one turn, you can send that fighter to reinforce Moscow or India, and maybe even have it join up with the US Pacific Fleet at some point. If you’re really creative, you may be able to use the Szechuan forces to can-open a path for a British Indian tank, or to take back a coastal Chinese territory somewhere deep in the middlegame. Second, Szechuan borders Russian territory, in the form of 2-IPC Kazakhstan. If you let the Japanese into Szechuan on turn 1, then they’re going to start hoovering up Russian income on turn 2, which is way too early.

    It doesn’t take much to reinforce Szechuan, because it’s not a coastal territory – Japan can’t bring in additional troops by transport, and most of its air force is out of range as well. The maximum attack on Szechuan on J1 is only 1 inf, 1 art, 2 ftr, 1 bmr. To beat that, you need either 3 inf, 2 ftr or 5 inf, 1 ftr. You start with one fighter in Szechuan, so if you land the British fighter in Szechuan after you use it to kill the Chinese transport, then you just need one more infantry, which can come from Kazakh on R1. If you don’t land the British fighter in Szechuan, then you need to either fly in the Russian fighter from Moscow to compensate, or you need to come up with 3 land units from somewhere, which probably means a bid. If you bid one American infantry (or artillery) in Szechuan, then Russia can reinforce Szechuan with 1 infantry and 1 tank (from Moscow) instead of sending a fighter. Bidding an American artillery in Szechuan also has the advantage of turning the surviving Chinese into more of an offensive force – a group of 2 inf, 1 art, 1 ftr can hit a stack of up to 3 Japanese infantry and win (82% odds), but a group of 2 inf, 1 ftr really shouldn’t be hitting more than 1 Japanese infantry at a time.

    If you really want to, you can bid a unit in both Szechuan and Sinkiang, and also send in 2 infantry and 1 tank from Russia. If the Japanese take heavy casualties in China or don’t unload any units onto the Chinese coast on J1, then you can probably get away with buying a factory in Sinkiang on America’s first turn, attacking Anhwei from Szechuan on A1 to make sure Japan doesn’t have any legal attacks on Sinkiang on turn 2. After that, you can buy a tank in Sinkiang every turn, and make attacks of opportunity with both the Russians and the Americans to tie up Japanese forces and ruin their planning. It’s not an optimal strategy from a financial point of view – expect to lose money on the deal relative to just flying in fighters – but if there’s any chance that your opponent will struggle to adapt to an unorthodox situation, the Sinkiang factory can be extremely disruptive without requiring you to give up too much in the way of efficiency.

    OPENING STRATEGY: PROPER BIDDING

    If you plan on attacking the Japanese BB and loaded carrier in Sea Zone 37 on Britain’s first turn, then I have no problem with three of the traditional bids for Kill Japan First – a British sub in the Indian Ocean, a British infantry in Egypt, and a British infantry in India all make sense. The sub lets you win the SZ 37 battle, the Egyptian inf keeps your Egyptian fighter alive long enough for it to join the SZ 37 battle, and the Indian inf helps India cope with Japan’s second transport in the aftermath of the SZ 37 battle. Those three bids synergize nicely. If you can’t afford all three bids (because your bid is less than 12 IPCs or because you want room to put units elsewhere), consider skipping the SZ 37 attack.

    If you are not attacking Sea Zone 37, I do not recommend the Indian sub or Indian infantry. India will be fine as long as you destroy Japan’s Chinese transport on UK1 and properly reinforce India during the game, and the Indian sub doesn’t pay for itself unless you are going to take out the Japanese BB + CV.

    I also do not recommend bidding an American destroyer in the Atlantic, because the western pair of German submarines have an excellent alternative – they can just kill the Canadian transport and destroyer instead, leaving Britain with zero boats in the Atlantic. Since the American transports survive, Americans can land 4 units in Morocco on turn 1, but even with a second destroyer, the American fleet will still be killed on G2, because to drop off troops in Morocco, the Americans have to get within fighter range of France.

    Instead of putting units in the Atlantic or India, consider bidding units in China, Siberia, or Eastern Europe. Szechuan is always the correct place to put your first extra Chinese unit, since anything in Anhwei or Yunnan can easily be destroyed on Japan’s first turn. After you place in Szechuan, you can place in Siankiang if you really want to keep going in China. An American AAA gun can be an interesting second bid for China, since there’s no way of getting one there without a bid or a factory, and Japan will need to rely heavily on its air power to wipe out a reinforced China.

    One interesting idea that I have not yet tested is to bid a second fighter for the American carrier in Pearl Harbor. If Japan sends the traditional attack of 2 ftr, 1 bmr, 1 sub, 1 CA to attack Pearl Harbor, then it’s a 50-50 battle that Japan can’t afford to lose. If Japan also throws in the CV, then Japan’s odds go back up to 74%, but they’ll almost certainly be leaving a naked carrier deck in range of the American counter-attack, and the Japanese bomber (if it survives) may be exposed as well. If Japan tries sending additional air force to make up the gap, that may slow down their gains in Burma / China / Siberia.

    END OF OPENING SECTION

    That’s all for now – I’ll write more soon and move onto the KJF middlegame!

  • '17

    Interesting ideas! Like to read more! What is your idea about Germany and Russia? Is the chance not to big that Germany will overrun Russia when you focus so much resources on Japan?

  • '19 '18 '17 '16 '15

    Another great article man!  I love doing KJP in this map, sometimes with success and sometimes fail horribly(see my most recent game as a counter example…).  I totally agree with you that KJP is feasible in this map even though it might not be the most optimized approach.

    Looking forward to see you more writing on this!
    Inno

  • 2021 '20 '19 '18 '17 '16

    Thanks for the positive feedback! 🙂 I promise to get to how Russia can hold Germany off in eastern Europe in the third post in this series. In the meantime, here’s a second post, with some middle-game strategy for the USA!

    MIDDLE-GAME STRATEGY: BUILDING A FLEET THAT JAPAN CAN’T COUNTER

    OK, you’ve figured out your bid, you’ve made your opening attacks, Japan has a couple of paper cuts, and now you’re ready to gear up and figure out how to build up some forces that can really win the game for you in the Pacific. The problem is, your British forces are too weak to mount a major offensive without losing India, and your American forces are on the wrong frigging side of the largest ocean in the world. Anything you build off the coast of San Francisco will take at least two turns before it can reach Japan, and so Japan has plenty of time to see it coming and build defenses that are custom-designed to trash your fleet. That means you need to build an American fleet that cannot be effectively countered – you want to build a US Pacific fleet that is so amazing, that even if Japan sees it coming, there’s nothing Japan can do about it.

    There are three basic options for building a fleet that Japan can’t counter. It must be:
    (1) So strong on defense that Japan can’t afford to wipe it out, OR
    (2) So strong on offense that Japan can’t afford to defend against it, OR
    (3) So awkwardly placed that Japan can’t afford to move toward it.

    Option 1 means your fleet is almost entirely composed of destroyers, carriers, and fighters. You build the fighters last, since they’re easier to fly onto your boats from a distance. You pretty much never attack Japan’s fleet – the idea is to create a stalemate. You then exploit that stalemate by moving your fleet into the money islands (Borneo, East Indies, or the Philippines) along with one or two loaded transports, and take the islands away from Japan. By definition, if there’s a stalemate, then Japan can’t move into your sea zone to take them back. Japan can’t move into all 3 of the money island sea zones to defend them all, because then they’d be splitting their fleet three ways, and you could attack and kill one or two of the smaller fleets. But Japan also can’t just pick a random money island to defend with its entire fleet – because then you can conquer a different money island. Meanwhile, you’ve got a steady stream of boats coming (as I’ll explain in a later section, you can afford to out-spend Japan in the Pacific), and you’ll be able to use that stream to keep pressuring Japan back toward Tokyo, away from the money islands – it will never be able to reclaim them, even once you move your fleet on to the next island.

    Option 2 means your fleet is almost entirely composed of submarines and bombers. Again, you build the bombers last, since they’re easier to fly over at a distance. You are not super-interested in taking Japan’s territories with America – instead, your goal is to destroy the Japanese fleet. You kill transports if they’re left undefended, you kill smaller detachments of boats if they’re left poorly defended, and eventually you have enough subs and enough bombers that you can attack and sink the Japanese fleet. You might lose most or all of your units in the process, but if Japan is heavily relying on transports (instead of factories), then Japan will lose critical time (and territory) to the British while they save up to rebuild, and meanwhile you’re still cranking out new subs and new bombers to keep hammering away at whatever Japan’s got left.

    Option 3 means your “fleet” is almost entirely composed of fighters and bombers. The idea is to reinforce the far-east Soviet territories with fighters so that you can use those same territories as a launching pad for your bombers, and then strategically bomb Japan and any factories it builds (don’t use this option if Japan doesn’t build any factories). Once you have enough bombers stockpiled in Asia to max out your strategic bombing damage, you can use any surplus bombers to target under-defended transports, or in combination with your American Chinese infantry to push Japan back out of central Asia. Meanwhile, any starting American boats that survive turn 1 can move north and then west past Alaska to Buryatia, reinforcing the Russians with a few extra infantry, artillery, and AAA guns. Japan could knock out your tiny little Alaskan fleet…but not without moving its capital ships two full turns away from the Indian Ocean, giving the UK the time and space it needs to start seizing the money islands. The idea is to exploit the huge distance between Alaska and the East Indies to your advantage – if you do it right, Japan should be too strapped for cash to defend both halves of the board in force while also repairing all the bombing damage.

    MIDDLE-GAME OPTION 1: THE SOUTHERN ROUTE TO THE MONEY ISLANDS

    The key to taking the money islands is to slowly take and hold more and more “ground” with your navy. Because the money islands are lightly defended (and because Japan cannot spare the transport capacity to heavily reinforce all of them), you do not actually need to destroy the main Japanese fleet to take the money islands. Instead, you can focus on building a fleet that Japan will be unable to destroy, and then use that fleet to turn more and more of the Pacific into a “no-go” zone for the Japanese. If your fleet can move to Borneo and stay there and not get killed, then your transports can also move to Borneo and seize the island for you. Note that “not getting killed” is a challenge that varies from turn to turn. You don’t have to build an invincible fleet that will never be killed before you ever set sail from San Francisco…the point is to start with a fleet that can move to Hawaii and not get killed, then reinforce the fleet in Hawaii strongly enough that it can move to the Solomon Islands and not get killed, and so on and so on, with a never-ending stream of heavy reinforcements. You keep building ships (even when you don’t need them yet) and you keep moving west (as soon as it’s safe to do so).

    The Caroline Islands Route Sucks for USA Defense

    The geographically shortest way for the USA to get to the money islands is across the central Pacific, moving four spaces from the Western USA -> Hawaii -> Wake Island -> Caroline Islands -> to the Philippines. In my opinion, this is a bad route to use, for several reasons. First of all, it requires travelling through Wake and Caroline, two Japanese-held territories worth 0 IPCs that are within a one-turn move of Tokyo. If you lose a carrier in these territories, you won’t be able to land the fighters unless you’ve taken the islands…and you can’t afford to spare the infantry or transports you would need to take those islands, because the islands are nearly worthless to you. Meanwhile, you can’t advance at all unless you will be safe from the entire Japanese fleet, including any boats that were placed near Tokyo on Japan’s last turn. Even though this route is only four sea zones long, it will almost always take you far more than two turns to cover the distance. Second, there is only one money island at the end of this route: the Philippines. Japan can reinforce the Philippines (or even just leave its two starting Philippine units in place), and that can delay you a full turn while you wait for enough transports to catch up to your battle fleet to actually take the island. Third, this route is too far away from Australia and India (and the UK starting fleets) for the UK to have any opportunity to reinforce you.

    The Solomon Islands Route Is Awesome for USA Defense

    A better route is to move from Western USA -> Hawaii -> Solomon Islands -> New Guinea -> to either the Philippines or Borneo. Although this route is five sea zones long, it forks two of the money islands, it takes you entirely through territories that are more than one move away from Tokyo, it gives the UK Australian fleet a chance to help the Americans, and it passes through New Guinea (which is worth 1 IPC, and so makes a better island to use as a staging ground than the economically worthless Wake or Caroline Islands). This southern route looks longer than the central route, but you can usually cross it successfully in a smaller number of turns, which is all that matters.

    Note that with the southern route, the “forking” attack starts good and keeps getting better for the USA. The Solomon Islands are a one-turn move from San Francisco. From the Solomons, you threaten both Borneo and the Philippines. From New Guinea, you threaten Borneo, the Philippines, the East Indies, Kwangtung, Kiangsu, and Thailand – 17 IPCs’ worth of juicy territory. Depending on Japan’s ability to counter-attack, sometimes it makes sense to take islands with sacrificial transports. E.g., if Japan stacks up in the Philippines while you stack up in New Guinea, and neither of you can successfully attack the other, you might want to send a solo transport to the East Indies – you’ll lose your loaded transport, but if Japan wants the island back, it needs to send its own loaded transport to take it back – and you can better afford to lose the loaded transport than Japan can. Just like trading too many infantry with Germany in eastern Europe tends to accelerate the rate at which Russia gets bled dry, forcing Japan to trade too many loaded transports can help accelerate the rate at which Japan runs out of money.

    The Economics of a Defensive Campaign in the Solomons

    A note on money: in attempting to counter your fleet, Japan cannot afford to rely entirely on submarines, because submarines don’t score hits against air units and only defend against boats with one pip each. If Japan’s fleet gets too sub heavy, then you’ll be able to kill it from the air, flying in your carrier-based fighters. So Japan is going to have to use roughly the same unit mix you do: mostly destroyers, fighters, and carriers. The problem (for Japan) is that fighters and carriers are weak on offense – if Japan attacks, his carrier group will roll 7 pips (1 for the carrier + 3 for each fighter) where yours will roll 10 pips (2 for the carrier and 4 for each fighter).

    Another point in your favor is that the United States can afford to spend its entire income on planes and warships, whereas Japan has to dedicate at least 18 IPCs per turn into putting armies into mainland Asia. Why 18 IPCs? Because Russia can afford to send one infantry a turn to the Pacific theater, and Britain can afford to build something like 2 infantry + 1 artillery each turn in India, plus flying over a fighter from London every other turn. That means Russia + the UK are dumping a minimum of 18 IPCs a turn into Asia. If Japan doesn’t match that investment, it’s eventually going to lose territory.

    Over the first 5 turns, the USA might spend 42 IPCs, 40 IPCs, 39 IPCs, 38 IPCs, and 38 IPCs. Of that income, you probably need to spend 7 IPCs on a second Pacific transport and 4 IPCs on a Pacific artillery. The rest can all go into planes and warships, for a total of 42 + 40 + 39 + 38 + 38 - 7 - 4 = 186 IPCs.

    Over the same first 5 turns, Japan might spend something like 30 IPCs, 34 IPCs, 36 IPCs, 38 IPCs, 40 IPCs – and even that’s a generous income if you’re going to Kill Japan First…often Japan will make less than that. 40 IPCs means Japan has held every single starting territory and taken all of China, all three eastern Siberian territories, Burma, and either Australia, Egypt, or Kazakhstan. In most games you should be able to stop Japan from expanding quite so far. Out of that income, at a minimum, Japan needs to buy a second and third transport for 14 IPCs on turn 1, and then on turns 3, 4, and 5, it needs to buy 18 IPCs worth of ground units. (Japan can get away with no ground units on turns 1 and 2 because it has so many ground units to start with). That means that at most, Japan gets to buy planes and warships worth 30 + 34 + 36 + 38 + 40 - 14 - 18 - 18 - 18 = 110 IPCs. So Japan is seriously under-spending you on the naval/air purchases, plus you’ve got a built-in defensive advantage, plus the route you’re going to take to get to the money islands lets you use the Australian fleet for a little extra support. Japan can ‘steal’ some of the income from its land war to support its navy a little longer–but very quickly, losing the land war will sap Japan of the income it needs to build boats. You don’t need to damage the Japanese economy all that badly! Once Russian/British conquests have pushed the entire Japanese income back down to 34 IPCs/turn or so, then the US build of 38-39 IPCs/turn will outmatch the Japanese even if the Japanese spend 100% of their income on boats.

  • 2021 '20 '19 '18 '17 '16

    MIDDLE-GAME OPTION 2: THE CENTRAL ROUTE TO A DEAD JAPANESE NAVY

    Now I know I just got finished making fun of the Caroline Islands route and complaining about how awful it is, but it’s actually a pretty useful route if your only goal is to blow up the Japanese fleet. The idea is that while the USA focuses 100% on blowing up the Japanese boats, Britain can come in and take the money islands. You don’t build any American transports at all in the Pacific with this option; only Britain builds transports (and even then, only if necessary; if the starting 2 British Pacific transports survive, then that’s plenty). You might build one or two American destroyers to serve as “blockers” to stop Japan from getting an easy shot at your submarines, but mostly you want to build subs, subs, and more subs in your first couple of turns. America starts with 42 IPCs: if you know you’re going to use this strategy, then I recommend spending that on 7 subs. Subs are an incredibly cost-effective weapon of destruction; the only problem is that they suck on defense. But if you don’t have any American transports, then you don’t have anything that you need to defend. You will eventually build some bombers, but the bombers can often attack from far enough away that they also don’t need any defense. If they can land on a territory like Hawaii or a British-occupied Borneo or New Guinea, that has 1 or 2 friendly infantry on it, so much the better, but if you wind up trading an American bomber for a loaded Japanese transport, that’s fine; you still come out ahead. The loaded transport costs a minimum of 13 IPCs; your bomber only costs 12 IPCs. Just make sure you spread out your bombers so you don’t land more than 1 on the same vulnerable island. If they try to kill one of your bombers by sailing over a carrier group, then, again, you profit – sink the carrier deck with submarines, and you’ve very comfortably traded a 12 IPC bomber for a 14 IPC carrier.

    As you advance toward Japan with your enormous stack of submarines, your goal should be to start depriving Japan’s navy of safe spots to rest. The more spaces you can take away from Japan, the more you can predict where Japan will be forced to move, and the less Japan will be able to accomplish in Asia – if Japan can’t find any safe zones to unload its transports, then Japan has to either sacrifice transports every turn (unsustainable) or avoid unloading transports (which leads to territorial gains for the Allies in east Asia). Obviously, some sea zones are more important to deny Japan than others. If you can dead-zone a money island like Borneo from the east by stacking in the Caroline Islands, then the Brits can move in and take Borneo from the west. If you can dead-zone all of the sea zones adjacent to Japan’s factory/factories, then Japan can’t place any new boats on the board without them being immediately killed. Even if you just dead-zone one of the sea zones adjacent to Japan’s factory, it can force Japan to retreat to a less powerful zone in order to build ships, setting up further gains for you on your next turn (because now more zones are safe for your subs).

    If you see an opportunity to attack Japan and wipe out its entire fleet, including transports, with 80%+ odds, then you can take it, but don’t be in a rush to pick a fight. You need to win with enough surviving units that you can continue to kill any new ships that Japan can afford to drop onto the map on its next turn – if the battle’s close enough that you wind up with nothing left but 2 bombers, then Japan can build a carrier and a transport on its next turn, load up the carrier with a couple of spare fighters, and be back in business.

    In general, this strategy works well when you see that Japan has at least four transports by the end of its second turn AND:
    (1) Japan has lost at least two fighters in land battles by the end of its second turn, or
    (2) Britain has won the opening battle in sea zone 37 against Japan’s BB and carrier, or
    (3) Japan failed to sink the American carrier off the coast of Hawaii in an opening battle.

    If Japan doesn’t have at least four transports, sinking its fleet isn’t going to cripple Japan badly enough to be cost-effective; Japan will just keep rolling tanks out of its Asian factories, and you’ll be sitting around looking at your great big useless fleet of submarines wondering why you lost the game. Similarly, if you don’t have some kind of “edge” in the water based on early combat results, then it will take too long to build up a winning offensive fleet, and you’d be better off just building a defensive fleet and using the southern route. But when conditions are just right, focusing on delivering subs and bombers to the central Pacific can be one of the fastest ways of knocking Japan to its knees.

    MIDDLE-GAME OPTION 3: THE NORTHERN ROUTE TO STRATEGIC BOMBING BASES

    Option 3 involves flying a lot of American planes over to the Soviet Far East, and then hopefully advancing them (along with Russian infantry) to Buryatia and then Manchuria. You bomb the Japanese factories like crazy, and at some point Japan either can’t afford to build armies in its Asian factories (so you seize one of the factories and start using it yourself), or Japan can’t afford to keep building boats (so you send your growing air force to sink the Japanese fleet, like an Allied version of the Dark Skies strategy for Germany), or Japan can’t afford to reinforce the homeland (so you send a couple of transports’ worth of Americans in from Alaska and try for a lucky shot on the Japanese capital). Even at only 30% odds, the capital strike can work well for you – if you send in 3 inf, 1 art, 2 ftr, 4 bomber to attack Tokyo when it’s defended by something like 8 inf, 2 ftr, then if you take above-average hits, then you retreat your air force and you’re out the cost of 2 loaded transports; if you give above-average hits, you win the game. It’s a good wager.

    I don’t have a lot more to say about this option beyond what I said in the overview, except that (a) you should absolutely not put a factory in Alaska, and (b) you will need to find a creative way of preserving a British Indian fleet.

    The factory in Alaska looks extremely tempting. You will think, “Oh, it costs a lot of money up front, but I’ll get good use out of it because it puts me a whole turn closer to Japan and Siberia.” You’re wrong. You will not get good use out of it. Even if you build two units in Alaska every turn, that’s still not good use for the price. For 14 IPCs – one buck cheaper than the factory – you can buy 2 transports. One transport can ferry two units a turn from Western US to Alaska, while the other transport returns from Alaska to the Western US. The two transports effectively put you a full turn closer to your targets, just like the factory would – but unlike the factory, the transports can also be used to get extra troops to Siberia or to try for a lucky strike on Japan’s capital. The factory just sits there. If you have transports and no Alaskan factory, you’re fine – you can start moving your troops over. If you have an Alaskan factory and no transports, your troops sit around getting frostbite in Alaska and counting the polar bears for the third time because they all got bored. The only reasons you would get any use from an Alaskan factory is if (a) you somehow max out the Western US factory, which has 10 build slots, or if (b) Japan manages to sink your transports while they’re literally adjacent to the US Pacific coast. If you accomplish option (a) while building mostly bombers and fighters, then the US has an income of 100+ IPCs per turn – how on earth did you do that without conquering Japan? If you “accomplish” option (b) while trying to kill Japan first, then you have already lost the game, and an Alaskan factory will not help you. In fact, it will probably help Japan, because you are probably about to lose Alaska, too. So: do not build an Alaskan factory.

    The British Indian fleet is tricky. You need a credible Allied threat in the southwest Pacific, especially on turns 2, 3 and 4, because otherwise the Japanese can just send everything to the northeast and crush the Americans before you get momentum from the strategic bombing. How can you do this, given that the starting Japanese navy can crush your Indian fleet and then crush your Australian fleet, or vice versa?

    One tactic is to fight the SZ 37 sea battle on turn 1 and win. Good luck rolling the correct dice, and pick a different strategy if you lose.

    Another tactic is to unite the British and Australian fleets in SZ 30, two zones due south of India, and two zones due west of Sydney. I had trouble seeing this on the map until someone else pointed it out, but all your boats can reach it on the first turn, and you can even land the Egyptian fighter on the carrier in SZ 30 without any trouble, assuming the fighter survived. You probably still want to send one of your two fighters to kill the Japanese transport near China, but that still leaves you with 1 CV, 1 ftr, 1 sub, and 2 CA in SZ 30, giving you 67% odds of wiping out the Japanese BB, CV, and 2 fighters if they dare to attack you there on J1. Japan can boost its odds from 33% up to 90% by sending the fighters from Thailand and the Caroline Islands – but that will force the carrier to move into SZ 30, and at that point, you’re diverting huge portions of the Japanese starting forces into frigging Antarctica, and so in an important sense you’ve already achieved your goal of preventing Japan from making a powerful opening strike against America, even if all your boats die. The Japanese BB, for example, won’t be available for strikes against your northern American forces until at least turn 4, even if it sails straight north by the fastest available route. Stick a destroyer in its way even once, and you’re safe until turn 5, which is all you really need to get going with your strategic bombing.

    Finally, one more interesting idea is to bid a British fighter in the Indian Ocean, on the carrier. Send both Indian Ocean fighters to kill the Chinese transport, and then return them both to the Indian Ocean – if one of them dies (36% odds), then use the Egyptian fighter instead. If Japan attacks you with only the CV, BB, and 2 fighters, then you have 50-50 odds to win, and your Australian fleet is still around to cause trouble for Japan, even if you lose in the Indian Ocean.

  • 2021 '20 '19 '18 '17 '16

    DEFENDING EASTERN EUROPE WHILE FOCUSING ON JAPAN

    OK, I know this section is why some of you are still reading, so here goes: here’s how you defend Eastern Europe and keep Russia alive while focusing on Japan. To start off, let’s get a couple of definitions out of the way.

    Definitions

    First of all, it is the Allies as a whole who are focusing on Japan. Russia does not focus on Japan. Russia will always send more than half of its forces into Europe, and less than half of its forces into Asia. If you try to consistently send 5+ Russian units a turn toward Japan, you will lose.

    Second, “the Allies focus on Japan” does not mean “the Allies send 100% of their units to Japan and never send a single fighter to reinforce Russia.” If you try to consistently send 100% of the US and UK units toward Japan, you will lose.

    Third, “you can keep Russia alive” doesn’t mean “you can keep Russia alive forever,” and it certainly doesn’t mean “you can walk into Germany and torch Berlin.” It means you can keep Russia alive for at least 8 turns, and maybe as many as 10 turns – which is long enough for you to either conquer Tokyo, or cripple Japan enough that you can start redirecting more troops toward saving Moscow without losing momentum against Japan.

    With all those caveats, yes, you can keep Russia alive while you focus on killing Japan. The most important principle to understand about how to do that is that you attack with Russia if and only if the attack is profitable. Notice that I didn’t say to avoid “losing” attacks. I said to avoid “unprofitable” attacks. When you decide to attack the Ukraine, or Belorussia, or Karelia, you have to count up how many German pieces you’re killing, count up how many Russian pieces you’re going to lose in combat, count up how many IPCs you’ll get for conquering the territory, and count up how many Russian pieces you’ll lose when the Germans counterattack, and count up how many German pieces you’ll kill during the German counter-attack. You add up all of those IPCs, and if the total is negative, then with rare exceptions, you DON’T make the attack.

    What is a Profitable Attack? The Belorussia Example

    For example, suppose you have 7 inf, 1 art in Moscow and 8 inf, 2 art, 4 tank, 2 fighter in West Russia, and Germany has 3 inf, 3 tnk in Belorussia and 6 inf, 1 art, 5 tnk, 4 ftr in Poland and 3 inf, 4 tanks in Berlin. If you attack Belorussia with your entire West Russia stack, you’re going to win. You’ll probably lose about 3 inf, you’ll kill 3 German inf and 3 German tanks, and you also collect 2 IPCs from occupying Belorussia, so it looks like the battle puts you up by 20 IPCs.

    The problem is that then Germany can immediately counter-attack. You’ll have 5 inf, 2 art, 4 tank in Belorussia (no fighters; they go back home in noncombat), and Germany can attack that with everything in Poland plus the 4 tanks in Berlin. Now Germany will only lose about 6 infantry in that battle, whereas you’ll lose your entire stack – a profit of 27 IPCs for Germany. Meanwhile, even if you advance your 7 inf, 1 art from Moscow, your 7 inf, 1 art, 2 ftr can’t win next turn against Germany’s surviving stack of 1 art, 9 arm in Belorussia – Germany has 90% odds to defend that successfully. So you made 20 IPCs of profit, but you also set Germany up to make a profit on the counter-attack of 27 IPCs – it’s a net loss of 7 IPCs for Russia; it’s a bad attack. You should have just moved your 7 inf, 1 art into West Russia and made no attacks that round – or better yet, make a smaller attack with only a couple of infantry into a sideshow territory where neither of you has a huge force – maybe the Baltic States, in this example.

    A lot of intermediate players will make attacks like the one in the Belorussian example because it looks good in isolation – Russia has 90%+ odds to win the attack, and you’re not obviously losing way more units than the Germans, so why not just go for it? The answer is that Russia can’t afford to replace more than one or two offensive units per turn – so if you’re losing three or four offensive units when you get counter-attacked, and you could have prevented that loss by skipping the attack, then skipping the attack is the only way to avoid running out of offensive units.

    Russia Is Neither A Berserker Nor A Doormat

    Once you run out of offensive units, you can’t win any attacks any more. If you’re used to thinking of Russia as a nation that rapidly becomes a hopeless lost cause, it’s probably because you’re frittering away all your offensive units in the first 2 or 3 turns, and, then, yes, you do have to sit there looking stupid while Germany steadily swallows all of your territories two at a time, because you have nothing left to attack with. But if you carefully husband your artillery and tanks and planes – if you make sure that you only lose them in battles that are a net win for your economy – then you can keep counter-attacking into turn 6 and beyond, which in turn forces Germany to be much more selective about what attacks he makes, which protects Russian territories. Choosing to accept the permanent loss of one Russian territory early on can save three or four Russian territories from being permanently lost a couple of turns down the road.

    The flip side of this principle is that you also must not build 8 infantry a turn and retreat toward Moscow while making zero attacks. If you never counter-attack Germany, then Germany will out-produce you, steal your territories, and reduce you to an insignificant power. You have to make some counter-attacks as Russia, or else (a) Germany grows too big too fast, and (b) Germany becomes free to put little or no guard on Eastern European territories because he knows you’re too scared to attack him, freeing up even more German tanks to crash into Moscow and Stalingrad.

    It will not do you any good to complain that you have to keep building so many infantry because it’s the only way to hold Germany off. It is not the only way to hold Germany off. You can hold Germany off with smart, well-chosen counter attacks. You can buy an artillery and a tank every turn – or a fighter every other turn – and not run out of infantry to hold Russian territories.

    Where on the Map to Draw the Line

    Take a look at the German and Russian economies. Russia starts with 24 IPCs. In a KJF game, you should be able to hold the line against Japan at Evenki, Vologda, and Kazakh – if you’re not at least retaking those territories from Japan each turn, you’re doing it wrong. Similarly, throughout the middlegame, you should be able to at least trade Archangel, West Russia, and the Caucasus with Germany each turn. That gives you a minimum total income of 20 IPCs per turn – enough to buy, e.g., 4 infantry and 2 artillery. In the opening, you will have even more income than that: Japan can’t physically reach Yakut or Novosibirsk until turns 2 and 3, and will likely need until turn 4 or 5 to actually stack enough troops there to stop you from trading the territories. Against Germany, you should be able to trade two out of three of Karelia, Belorussia, and the Ukraine for at least a few turns. That gives you an upper income of about 26 IPCs per turn – enough to buy 4 inf, 1 art, 1 fighter, or enough to buy 4 inf, 2 art, 1 tnk. From that purchase, I recommend that you set aside 1 infantry each turn and send it to the east. You can also send one starting infantry, one starting tank, and/or one starting fighter east from the Russian core, as well as the 7 Russian infantry that start in Siberia – but of your purchases, I recommend that you keep about 23 Russian IPCs per turn in Moscow or west of Moscow.

    You can reinforce that with a British fighter every single turn if you like, or every other turn if you want to focus on India (so, 5 to 10 IPCs per turn). The neat thing about reinforcing Russia with British fighters is that you can fly from London to West Russia in one turn, and then from West Russia to India in one turn. If you keep doing that, you always have 1 British fighter in West Russia. It’s kind of a free force multiplier – even if you dedicate 0 British fighters to Russian defense (not recommended), you still effectively have 1 British fighter on full-time Russian defense, at no extra cost to you. By the time you need to retreat from West Russia, you should have a British carrier-- and a fighter built on a carrier in the North Sea can fly straight to Moscow in one turn.

    Meanwhile, Germany officially starts the game with 41 IPCs, but that doesn’t reflect the real strength of the German economy. Germany will lose West Russia immediately, and will not be able to take it back for at least a few turns. Germany should also struggle to hold onto all 3 of Belorussia, Ukraine, and the Baltic States in the opening. So Germany is really playing with something closer to 37 IPCs in the opening. Some of that money will usually go to Africa, to a naval build, and/or to build planes that are intended to pressure the British navy. Even if those planes wind up being sent against Russia, the seventh German plane is much less efficient at attacking Russia than an equivalent amount of IPCs spent on infantry and tanks. So Germany is effectively spending something in the range of 30 to 33 IPCs per turn on troops that are invading Russia, against 25 to 31 Allied IPCs per turn dedicated to defending against Germany. It’s really not much of an advantage for Germany, especially since infantry are more cost-effective when used as defenders.

    Scorched Earth

    You just have to do the math and count and see when it’s time to retreat. If you retreat too early, before Germany forces you to do so, then you won’t have enough income. If you retreat too late, after Germany has already turned your front line into a dead zone, then Germany will kill your front line troops, and you won’t be able to afford to replace them. The trick is to stack up and hold Germany off of any given territory as long as possible…but no longer. Once Germany forces you to retreat, retreat one territory…and then repeat, making Germany force you to yield that ground, as well. Force Germany to commit forces everywhere he wants to gain territory, but don’t commit your forces into defending a losing battle. The extra time it takes for Germany to marshal enough forces into striking distance of your well-defended territories will give you extra turns of income from that territory, and the extra troops you save by not actually fighting a combat in that territory will give you extra turns of income from the next territory to the east – because it will take Germany that much longer to build up an army that can force your new, even larger stack to retreat.

    Ideal Attacks vs. Necessary Attacks

    The “ideal” Russian attack is to send 2 infantry and 1 fighter to attack a 2-IPC territory that’s guarded by 1 German infantry. You have a 57% chance to take the territory without losses, and a 36% chance to take the territory with 1 infantry. That means that on the German counter-attack, you’re inflicting an average of 0.5 German casualties, even if Germany brings in such huge forces that they wipe you out in the first round of combat. So you kill 1 German infantry up front (3 IPCs), you’ve got a minimum of a 50-50 shot at killing another German infantry on the counter-attack (1.5 IPCs), and you gain a 2-IPC territory (2 IPCs). Total benefits of 6.5 IPCs. Meanwhile, you are losing 2 infantry (-6 IPCs). You’re guaranteed a profit of 0.5 IPCs on the transaction, plus you slow down the German attacks and push them back away from Moscow by a full turn, plus you set the Germans up to fail, plus you’re not losing any offensive units. Every attack that the Germans have to figure out is an attack where they might send the wrong number of units, and take extra casualties. The 0.5 IPC gain is your minimum gain. If the Germans make mistakes, or if they don’t have enough infantry available, then you make even more profit.

    Not every Russian attack will be ideal, If the Germans have 2 infantry in a territory, you might need to attack with something like 2 inf, 1 art, 1 fighter. You lose 10 IPCs worth of units, but you kill 6 IPCs worth of Germans in the initial assault, plus an average of 2 IPCs worth of Germans in the counterattack, and you collect 2 IPCs of income for gaining the territory. So there’s no minimum profit – the minimum profit is you break even. That’s fine. You can even accept (very) small economic losses from time to time, if that’s what you need to do to keep Germany away from Moscow and Stalingrad. But the closer you can get to your ideal, the better.

    The only exception to all of this bean counting is when you absolutely must block a German tank blitz in order to survive. If the Germans have 15 tanks in Karelia and 5 infantry in Archangel, and you’ve got 4 infantry and 3 fighters in Moscow and nothing else, then guess what? You’re attacking Archangel this turn, and the hell with the expected economic losses. Hoarding profits won’t help you if you lose your capital. But please, CHECK to make sure you actually have to stop the blitz. Don’t panic and assume that every German tank drive has to be stopped or the Russians will lose. Consider the consequences of allowing the Germans through. Do they get a 10% chance at taking your capital? That might be an acceptable risk if the alternative is a 100% chance of losing all your remaining offensive power. Do they get a 60% chance of winning a battle against your main stack in West Russia? That might mean you need to stop the blitz, if you can do so at a small expected loss (on the order of 5 to 10 IPCs) – or it might just mean it’s time to retreat from West Russia back to Moscow or the Caucasus.

    Finally, keep in mind that infantry are also part of what it means to have offensive power. If you have 16 infantry and 2 artillery, you have some respectable offensive power, because you can afford to send out, e.g., 6 infantry and 2 artillery on an offensive mission and still guard your capital with 10 infantry. If instead you have 4 infantry and 4 tanks, you have no meaningful offensive power – your tanks have to stay home and guard your capital; they can’t go anywhere or do anything. So, when you think about whether an attack is an acceptable use of your remaining offensive power, consider both whether the attack will leave you with enough heavy equipment (tanks, etc.) and also whether the attack will leave you with enough infantry.

    END OF SECTION

    That’s all for now – I’ll be back next week with advice on how to defend Africa while focusing on Japan, and what to do in a Kill Japan First endgame. As always, I love to hear your comments!

  • '17

    Very interresting post again! I think in general all the strategy will work out against most players depending on your luck. But i believe there is quite easy to counter by an experienced player. I can be bad at Russia or good at German play, but for me this strategy result in an early lose of Moscow.

    This is how:
    There is a weakness in the strategy that Germany need to act according to your expectations. He need to invest a little in the African theater and slow push into Russia, doing light trading along the line of controle. And that is how i played Germany for the longest time. But i discovered that in this edition of A&A Germany can make a much stronger offensive against Russia! This is how:

    First of all the allied fleet in the Atlantic gets diced 90% of the time. And with a little bit of luftwaffe pressure this will not rebuild soon! If the Allies choose to spend a majority of their cash in the pacific theater, it will not happen anytime soon that the Allies have a fleet in the Atlantic that can do any significant pressure on Europe. This means that Germany does not have to spend much IPC’s in building an atlantic wall or so. At best the UK is able to secure Africa and maybe eat 3 IPC’s in Scandinavia. That is minus 6 IPC’s for Germany at best. But most likely this strategy does only allow to take the 3 African IPC’s.

    Second: Germany starts with a great offensive power and a significant number of infantry. Even if Germany would not buy any offensive units, he likely will start with more tanks and planes than Russia will have end game. So Germany does not need to invest a lot in offensive power, and can buy loads of infantry.

    Back to the assumption that Germany is behaving like you expect: in fact Germany should do the opposite! I would ignore Africa completely! I would try to hold on to the 3 IPC I own from the start as long as possible, but spend no dime on keeping it long term. Africa is a long term strategy, but the Axis can’t afford a long war. That makes Africa a wrong investment! But that also means that Germany has about 40 IPC to spend in Europe. And since Germany has little treat of an invasion it can invest every IPC in pressuring Russia. If England succeeds in taking 6 IPC’s from Germany, it still has at least 35 IPC’s to spend from its original territories, plus what it gets from occupied Russian territories. But since Germany most likely does not loose Scandinavia, it will have a stable income of 40 IPC or more! With that it can easily buy 10 inf every turn and spend the rest on offensive power.

    The second thing Germany should not do is the light trading! As you correctly point out: the most profitable trade for Russia is if Germany has 1 infantry left on a territory. So Germany should try to prevent this. Because Germany can easily send 10 infantry to Russia every turn, Germany can and should let Russia bleed for every time it trades a country! I would leave at least 3 but preferable 4 infantry on every territory with the tanks in reserve to kick Russia back when they get bold. Since most of the time there are 3 adjacent German territories to Russian territories, Russia need to choose 1 territory to trade in stead of 2. Simply because he can not afford to attack 2. To trade 1 he need at least 5 infantry and 2 fighters to succesfully take the territory. 6 infantry is what Russia is buying every turn, so this is a war of attrition that Russia will quickly loose! Plus he will not keep his economy up at 26IPC after his first turn. Second turn Russia lost Buryatia, it controls West Russia, and need to choose from taking Karelia, Belo Russia or Ukraine. It will likely take Karelia to prevent the use of the factory by Germany. So it ends with 25 IPC. Second or third turn Germany moves his main force into Karelia, so trading chooses are now Archangel, Belo Russia or Ukraine. In the mean time no infantery is going to the East, so the Soviet Far East falls, and most likely Russia retreates to Evenki, giving 3 IPC to Japan. At the mean time Japan can probably threaten Kazakh and Novosibirsk. So at this point the income of Russia is down to about 21 to 22 IPC in turn 3. Now it depends a little on luck and guts, but then Germany can move into West Russia turn 4 or 5. Now Russia need to retreat its army into Russia to not loose its capital and start trading for Caucasus. Here Germany does the same thing. Move as much infantry in Caucasus as you can miss. The limit of what you can miss is based on what you need to keep in West Russia to defend against a counter attack by Russia. Russia can not continue trading Caucasus because an attack will cost to much, after which Germany will crush Russia. So Russia is hanging by its fingernails turn 6 or 7 with an economy of about 13 or 14 IPC!

    Turn 6 the US is just pushing up the money islands! As soon as the axis see that all allied IPC’s are spend in the Pacific, Japan let go on its ambitions to expend, but need to consolidate. Most likely Japan can spend 30, 33 and 35 IPC’s in the first 3 turns. It can be less if the UK waste a transport on taking an island first turn. In the 2nd turn Japan should be able to see what the Allies are doing, so it will spend no more than 12 IPC’s on land units for as long as it can. The rest it spend only on a few bombers and all subs. He positions its fleet at Formosa. From there he can deadzone all important sea zones for a long time. It has a big starting fleet and can buy more ships and planes for about 18 to 23 IPC every turn. That is a big disadvantage for the US which also need to move its purchases across the ocean, taking a few turns. Japan is 1 move away from its preferred position but can move to a sea zone next to Japan if required for survival. Last resort is to give up the fleet and turtle. If you buy a factory on the mainland you can still be an annoyance for a long time!

    Japanese land forces lock the territories of preferably Birma or otherwise Yunnan as soon as possible. It can drop 3 or 4 infantry in Yunnan every turn for a long time. This will be enough to create a stalemate with the UK. That is more then enough for Japan. He can send 1 infantry north so now and then to push Russia to at least Yakut. That is all Japan does! Japan can not hold indefently, but long enough for Germany to overpower Russia. That will be at turn 7 or 8. By that time Japan is perhaps just pushed back from Yunnan. And the fleet pushed back to Japan!

    If Russia falls while Tokyo is still alive then the Allies are doomed! For Germany will have a big income and factories in excellent positions. It can take all the mainland easily and conquer all the victory cities it needs.

    My conclusion is that any strategy which does not contain Germany well enough is not feasible against an experienced Axis player. That also means that there is not a quick way to win a KJF game for the Allies. As a matter of fact, since the OOB set up is what it is: allies have a stronger economy and axis have a stronger army, there is not such a thing as a quick way to win for the allies. The only possibility for the allies to win is if it is able to contain the axis before their economy got too big. So the opposite is true! The longer the allies survive, the better the chance to win the game!

    In this version of the game i do like to do a KJF strategy. But the first 8 or so rounds are focussed on forcing Japan to build navy in stead of tanks, while all remaining income is spend on containing Germany. If Germany is kicked out of Africa, the Allies are landed in Scandinavia, and Germany is not in West Russia then the balance is in favor of the allies. But i did not see this happen without a significant bid for the allies.

    I like to hear any feedback, experiences or counters!

  • 2021 '20 '19 '18 '17 '16

    Great challenges, GiddyXray! I think you’ve outlined some of the best available counters to a KJF that’s aimed at the most common Axis openings. If the Allies try to follow my KJF strategy literally while the Axis follow GiddyXray’s advice, then the Axis will usually win. That said, I think the Allies have effective counters to these counters, which I’ll outline below. I also think there are a couple of places where GiddyXRay is over-stating the strength of the Axis resources, and I’ll point those out too. Finally, I have some thoughts on how the Allies can win even if Moscow falls on turn 7 or turn 8, but I’ll cover those in more detail as part of my originally-scheduled KJF endgame post.

    HOW TO COPE WITH GERMANY SENDING 40 IPCs / TURN DUE EAST TOWARD MOSCOW

    If I understand you correctly, you’re suggesting that Germany should send its entire income east toward Moscow starting on turn 1, with no reinforcements at all sent to Africa, no defensive purchases for its navies (subs, destroyers, a carrier), and no excessive purchase of aircraft (at most one plane per turn). If Germany follows your advice, Britain can sink the German cruiser, battleship, and transports on turn 1 with minimal losses. The surviving German submarines (2 subs, on average) and air force (6 planes, on average) can stop Britain from rebuilding its navy on turn 1, but by turn 2 it’s easy for Britain to rebuild. The UK starts with 31 income, and since you’re not attacking Egypt or keeping Burma on turn 1, the UK will collect at least 31 income again at the end of turn 1 (more if the Canadian transport survives or the UK takes Borneo). Spend 10 IPCs per turn on 2 inf, 1 art for India, and that leaves you with 42 IPCs left to buy a navy. You start with 2 fighters in London and 1 fighter in Egypt; assume 2 of those 3 fighters survive the first turn. You will also have either 1 American destroyer or 1 British destroyer in the Atlantic (Germany can’t sink them both and also kill the Scottish BB and also kill the British Med DD without insanely good luck). You also have the 1 Russian sub that you can bring over from the White Sea for extra defense. So you can spend your 42 IPCs on 1 carrier (14 IPCs), 1 transport (7 IPCs), 1 destroyer (8 IPCs), and 1 cruiser (12 IPCs). That leaves you with a defensive navy of 1 CV, 2 ftr, 1 CA, 2 DD, 1 SS, which has 7 HP and 18 defensive pips – more than enough to stand up to an attack by, say, 2 subs, 3 fighters, and 1 bomber, which only has 6 HP and 17 offensive pips. You put the navy in the sea zone northwest of Britain, so that the only way German fighters can reach it is if they’re parked in France – but German fighters in France struggle to reach Karelia or West Russia or the Ukraine, so Germany can’t afford to park its entire fighter stack in France if it also wants to keep pressuring Russia in the east. After turn 2, if Germany changes its mind and builds subs or extra planes, then Britain can build a destroyer or carrier. If Germany sticks to its “land units only” strategy, then Britain can build an extra transport every turn along with the land units to fill it. As you accumulate transports, you also become able to trade more territories, so you have more income and you can fill those transports. By turn 6, Britain should have 4 full transports – a serious threat to Germany’s income! Germany might not have to worry (much) about losing Berlin, but it will certainly have to maintain a garrison force in France and Italy (and pay to replace casualties), or it will lose them to Britain. Norway and NW Europe also quickly become expensive for Germany to hold onto.

    After Germany has made some impressive gains in the opening, then Germany can afford to build 40 IPCs of land units and send them east. But if Germany opens the game by sending 40 IPCs east on turns 1, 2, and 3, then it will cede a tremendous amount of momentum to Britain, and very soon it will either have to divert significant units to garrison duty (so that less than 40 IPCs go east each turn), or its economy will dip below 40 IPCs/turn (so that it’s not even building 40 IPCs each turn).

    If you send zero units to Africa, that also gives the British the option of placing a turn-1 factory in Egypt. Britain doesn’t have to rebuild its Atlantic fleet at all if it doesn’t want to. With an income of 32 IPCs / turn, Britain can eventually settle into a build of 2 inf, 1 art in India, 2 tnk in Egypt, and 1 ftr in London. On turn 1, Britain lands a fighter and a bomber from London in Gibraltar or Egypt, and then Libya falls on turn 2. If Germany stacks up in Libya, then Britain can kill off the entire North African contingent in one attack, and then redirect all forces to India. If Germany retreats, then Britain can start marching its infantry to India while pursuing the retreating Germans with tanks, planes, and 1-2 infantry to soak up casualties.

    Another option is for Britain to build strategic bombers. With an economy of 34 IPCs (starting territories plus either North Africa or Thailand or Borneo), Britain can build 2 inf, 1 art in India + 2 bombers in London. If you can’t quite make it to 34 IPCs, you can afford to skip 1 inf in India once in a while. Starting on turn 3, Germany will be taking serious economic damage that will cut into its ability to churn out tons of land units.

    Finally, as GiddyXray suggests, it’s worth pointing out that you can always adapt the KJF on the fly to account for the direction Germany takes. If Germany is wagering everything on an all-out blitz aimed at taking out Moscow on turn 6, you can always take some of the pressure off of Japan to focus on flying more fighters to Moscow. On average, I recommend sending 1 Russian infantry and 3 mixed British land units and half a British fighter east against Japan every turn while putting almost 100% of the US economy against Japan…but you could also spend 66% of the US economy against Japan, build 3 infantry in India, and use everything else to protect Moscow until the German offensive stalls out. Japan will not be too huge, and you can turn up the pressure against Japan once Russia has stabilized.

    HOW TO COPE WITH GERMANY STACKING 4 INFANTRY IN EACH BORDER TERRITORY

    One option that Russia has if Germany is going to put 4 infantry in a border territory is to move the entire stack into one of those border territories. E.g., if Germany sends 4 infantry to Karelia, Belorussia, and Ukraine while keeping a stack of tanks in reserve in Poland, the answer is to just move your entire West Russia stack into Karelia. You can’t hold it, exactly – Germany can pull up those infantry from Ukraine and Berlin to force you out the next turn – but that’s fine; you just restack in West Russia, or, if necessary, in Archangel, while leaving last turn’s purchases in place to guard Moscow. Germany will lose the 4 infantry, and you’ll take minimal casualties. There are times when you can’t quite get away with this, because Russia needs two full turns of reinforcements in place to stop the blitz on Moscow – but there are other times when ‘hopping’ your stack around will be very convenient for Russia. If Germany is building mostly infantry (as you suggest), then it probably will be a long time before Germany has enough tanks in range of Moscow to knock out 2 full turns of Russian deployment plus the two Russian fighters and 2-3 reinforcing Allied fighters.

    Another option, which I’ll discuss more fully in my endgame post, is that you can sometimes afford to lose Moscow in a KJF game. If Germany is trying to bleed Russia dry, the corollary is that Germany is also going to be a bit grey around the edges. If Germany takes Moscow with a stack of say, 4 tanks left over, it’s going to be about 2 turns before Germany can rebuild those 4 tanks into a stack of doom, even with the aid of Moscow’s 8 unit/turn production – and then it will take additional time for those new German units to move from Moscow to India or Manchuria. If Germany abandons Africa, Japan stalemates India, Germany takes Moscow, and America takes the money islands and Thailand/Kwangtung, then Japan has about 18 IPCs of income, Germany has about 52 IPCs of income, Russia has 0 IPCs, UK has 35 IPCs, and the USA has 52 IPCs. The Allies have a significant economic advantage, and the Allies are likely to improve that advantage over time, because Japan will increasingly be stuck in Tokyo building inefficient fighters that are out of range of the new front lines, and it’s easier for the USA to wipe up Manchuria, Siberia, etc. against a declining Japan then for Germany to make progress against India or Egypt, which will be defended by a still-perfectly-healthy UK.

    HOW TO COPE WITH JAPAN DUMPING 4 INFANTRY PER TURN IN YUNNAN

    If Japan repeatedly makes a minimal build of land units, like 4 infantry per turn to be shuttled to Yunnan, then that takes a lot of pressure off of China, Siberia, and India. Because of the Japanese air force, you will have to retreat a couple of spaces away from the stack of Japanese infantry, but pretty soon all those fighters will have to decide: are they based on carriers to help protect the Japanese navy, or are they supporting the Japanese infantry in central Asia?

    If the Japanese send their fighters east to protect the navy, then you can hold the line in, say, Kazakhstan and Burma and Yakut for a very long time. Infantry alone won’t be able to make a successful attack. Unlike their Axis counterparts, Russian fighters based in Kazakhstan can still be useful for trading West Russia or the Caucasus – they don’t have to pick just one theater. British fighters based in Burma can still fly to Moscow in one turn for emergency defense. So if they’re using a giant stack of infantry with minimal air support, you can use a medium-sized stack of infantry with minimal air support, and infantry’s inherent defensive advantage will let you hold the line at a place that’s reasonably favorable for the Allies. After Japan loses its fleet (or stops building land units), you can drop a few artillery or tanks onto your front lines and start gaining ground.

    If the Japanese send their fighters west to support their infantry, then the Americans can build subs and bombers and sink the Japanese fleet extremely quickly – by about turn 4. The build of Japanese bombers and Japanese subs recommended by GiddyXray is worthless on defense. Once the Americans sink the Japanese surface fleet, they can build a couple of destroyers, and return for a second pass, killing the submarines with bombers and destroyers by about turn 6. Meanwhile, as the Americans are sweeping the Pacific clear of subs, the British can grab the money islands. The Japanese will make reasonable progress in Asia – they should be able to take Burma and Kazakhstan – but even with fighter support, 4 infantry a turn isn’t enough to take India or the Caucasus, and once the Japanese fleet sinks (cutting off the supply of Japanese infantry), the Allies will be able to turn the tide.

  • '17

    Hi Argothair! Cool to see your reply! Would be fun to see this in a real dual! Actually that would be the best way to proof certain ideas! 😉 but for the sake of the forum discussion we can battle in words! I will share my comments on the points you make.

    First of all I do agree that England should spend a considerable amount of money on building up a fleet. This will one way or an other revert pressure from the USSR to the west. Germany either need to build planes to deadzone the Atlantic, or it has to build a defense of infantry. Like in the real history a treat of an invasion already ties down a large force, but at some point you will need to execute it. Norway is still a good starting point. The downside of building the fleet early is that no fighters are going east to support the Indian contingent. This will take pressure off Japan.

    Next to that England has to build infantry and artillery in India to at least maintain the stalemate with Japan in Birma. The role of England in the East would not be so big, but it can maintain itself. The pressure on Japan need to come from the US. But it can grab one of the money Islands when it sees a chance. Overall this means that Japan will take longer to conquer. But with Russia getting more support the Allies have more time. More time is equal to more chance to win.

    I think the factory in Egypt would be an ok investment. Especially if Germany leaves it alone. Though i doubt if it is a better investment then a fleet in the Atlantic. The Allies need to spend their IPC’s wisely. It can not do both. It could serve to send a few units to help defend Moscow or Caucasus. Though i believe it would be too less by the time it is needed. I like the idea of making a second front in Europe. That can be more effective because Germany need to spread his armies. If you only fortify Moscow Germany can stack into one big army.

    Also i agree with your argument about Russia taking Karelia with force if Germany puts down 4 inf in every border territory. But this depend a lot on the outcome of R1! Did Russia get diced in the opening round? Then there are not enough troops in West Russia! Did Russia get a bid? Or did Russia do a Ukraine straffe? What did Russia buy first turn? There is a big chance (i don’t know a percentage) that Russia can not even take Karelia without being wiped out! If Germany would have bought 10 inf as i had suggested and spend the rest on offensive pips, then Germany could have bought 2 tanks. That means Germany had 12 to 13 tanks in range, plus at least 6 inf (2 from Norway plus 4 from Belo Russia plus anything from Baltic), plus 5 or 6 planes. The chance is huge that Karelia is deadzoned! So you should have had luck with the dice and smart with bits and buys to make this work! And it will be tricky still! Even if it works, Germany would take West Russia in stead, and also Russia would not be able to maintain 26 IPC.

    What i do not believe is that Russia is able to send units east. Because Germany comes in too strong. For Russia to survive the first 6 rounds against Germany it needs every unit it can get. Even if England decides to build a fleet and harass the coastal territories, then it takes time before this gets some momentum. Overall this means that more inf stay behind to guard the coast. Here i think you overstate the possibilities of England and underestimate the possibilities of Germany. If it wants to maintain its stalemate in Birma, then it can not build much more then about 6 units in Europe. Or it need to buy inf only, which is an army without teeth. At the other hand Germany stays at at least 40 IPC to turn 6 even if they don’t do well. That is because whatever England takes from Germany, they either take back, or they compensate with Russian IPC’s. Most probably making 40+ every turn. By turn 6 the more and more Inf need to stay in the West to fight England. Then around that time it need to be clear whether operation Barbarossa was successful. By that time roughly 50 to 60 inf had been send East. Giving Germany a good possibility to take Moscow. Plus, if the German plan was successful it can continue the pressure with the Caucasus factory.

    So i do believe the battle is won between turn 6 and 8. Then it need to proof if Germany was successful in taking Moscow without loosing other terrain to much. And you are right with you comment that it matters with how much Army Germany has left after the sack of Moscow. Are that 20 tanks or 4 tanks? If Germany lost his entire stack of inf but kept the offensive force, then it is not too difficult to swing South and take India and Egypt. After that the Allies go down hill, or does Germany has a few tanks left over and does it need to start build up a force while it need to fight England at the same time? Then probably it is a down hill battle for Germany, which will not get any help from Japan.

    At the side of Japan i’m not so sure whether you are right about how quickly it will fall. Obviously the fighters need to stay at sea or close to sea. Japan starts with one bomber and should purchase at least one more. The bombers have a great reach and can both threaten sea zones and help doing some territory trading.

    So, the main focus for Japan is defense. It does mostly naval purchases. And you are right that after a couple of turns Japan can not keep up with the US anymore. That shouldn’t be the 4th turn but later if you do it well. That is because the US need to sail their ships across the ocean first. And further: Japan starts with a little head-start, so it has an advantage over the US with a couple of turns. Its best bet is to deadzone the important zones around the Japan with cheap subs. That is cheaper then a balanced fleet, so it can hold of the US fleet for 1 or 2 turns longer than it otherwise would. However, once the US fleet is defensive stronger than the Japanese is offensive, all hope for Japans naval ambition is lost. It can probably buy itself an other turn by retreating a zone closer to Japan. After that it can do two things: wait and see how it will be destroyed, or be opportunistic and attack the US fleet. A lot depends on how the board looks like. Japan might be able to kill all ships except for planes, or just decimate the US fleet. Whatever Japan does, it is not allowed to loose its planes! At the turn you decide to strike, you should be wise to purchase a IC on the mainland, because after that there is no shipping troops possible anymore. This should be about the sixth or seventh turn, depending on a number of factors. Those factors are besides luck and skill, chooses in purchases and early attacks, like the SZ37 attack.

    After Japans fleet is gone, Japan need to turtle even more. If the game is in favor of the Axis, then Moscow should have been fallen and Germany starts to pressure England. Japans only income comes from the mainland now. And the US might be busier helping defend India against Germany then it is to sack Tokyo. If that is what is happening, then those are bad days for the Allies. If the situation is that Germany did not take Moscow, while the UK/US are taking territories in the mainland from Japan, while building transports to threaten an invasion of the Japanese homeland, then it are dark days for the Axis!

    In a OOB scenario i’ll put my money on the Axis for sure. With any bits the odds might change in favor of the Allies. Also a lot depend on luck in the first round. If Russia looses too much units in the opening round, and the UK doesn’t kill a ship in a SZ37 attack, you might reconsider whether KJF is feasible! But if you see the opposite happening, then KJF strategy can be a very good alternative!

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