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Creative Japan Strategies



  • Germany has a lot of options in the early game with London, Russia, the Mediterranean, economic based strategies, bombers, and more. I might be a little narrow-minded here but all of the Japanese strategies feel like grab India and go from there. You could go after Russia and delay your Japanese attacks in the South Pacific, but it doesn’t grow your income very quickly.

    Have any of you had success with alternative Japanese strategies in the same vein as German bombers or Med play? Japan has a lot of potential with all of their aircraft, but they often seem to land in the same territory. Thoughts?



  • Ive done major factory korea then blitzkrieg into Russia, while mopping up china and stalling against US and UK.



  • First 3 turns for Japan more or less do need to be the same precisely because of income - you NEED Hong Kong, Malaya, and the Money Islands.

    Beyond that… I actually don’t go for India right away.  Sure, try to bomb it J2, park subs off its coast J3+, but after that you start to have options.

    J4+… attack Russia.  Finish thrust into China (which also let’s you race towards Moscow or Caucaus.  Skip India and hit the Middle East or S. Africa (great if Sea Lion was done so England can’t defend S. Africa).  land on Western Australia and park some bombers there.  Turn Java into an air base.  Drop a random guy on the U.S.’ Aleutian islands to steal an N.O. if they don’t have a transport in range and you’ve got a spare.

    I use Japan’s planes to fill carriers to defend SZ6 from the U.S.  after that its bombers and subs and transports while I gobble up random islands so the Allies have no place to land planes for random attacks and then I do have places to land.


  • 2018 2017

    I suggest not buying factories early during a 100% KJF or a J1.  The big vulnerability during a J1 is that the USA steps up to you with parity and you can’t fend him off because too much went south.    Funding the factories eases the China/India/Russia battle at the expense of letting the USA grow bigger than your home fleet.    If you wait and keep the US out of the war, they tend to waste money on the Atlantic side while you secure your money–in a J3-4 plan the factories are fine because you are hiding behind the peace.

    Factories on the mainland are a common part of Japan play but I suggest deferring them until later in the game and relying on transports and your fleet until you reach threshold income.



  • @taamvan:

    I suggest not buying factories early during a 100% KJF or a J1.   The big vulnerability during a J1 is that the USA steps up to you with parity and you can’t fend him off because too much went south.    Funding the factories eases the China/India/Russia battle at the expense of letting the USA grow bigger than your home fleet.    If you wait and keep the US out of the war, they tend to waste money on the Atlantic side while you secure your money–in a J3-4 plan the factories are fine because you are hiding behind the peace.

    Factories on the mainland are a common part of Japan play but I suggest deferring them until later in the game and relying on transports and your fleet until you reach threshold income.

    Not buying factories means you NEED transports, but if your worry is the U.S. fleet then you can’t bring enough ships south to keep your transports alive.

    Easiest way to stay at parity with U.S. fleet in Pacific is to only buy carriers until J5 or more, when you buy ships.  You already have the planes to stock them.  So you keep a carrier, destroyer, and maybe a cruiser in SZ 6…J1 2 transports and a factory, J2 3 mechs, a factory, a carrier, J3 you can afford 2 carriers plus rest spent on the 2 factories… now, by US3 you’ve got 4 carriers in SZ 6 and up to 11 planes.


  • 2019 2017 2016

    Without factories you’ll run out of production slots on Tokyo.

    I can’t see how you can run an effective war as Japan without at least 2 factories. Perhaps including India if you take that early.



  • @simon33:

    Without factories you’ll run out of production slots on Tokyo.

    I can’t see how you can run an effective war as Japan without at least 2 factories. Perhaps including India if you take that early.

    Heck, in a game with a KJF strategy and aggressive UKPac and Russia, U.S. dumping troops in Soviet Far East, it might be best to get a 3rd factory (or even a 4th) on the mainland early and just crank out inf/mech if the battle is close, mechs/tanks if you’re pushing them back.


  • 2018 2017

    I agree that the factories are considered standard early play for japan no matter what turn you attack, and they are the reason that the US can consistently defeat japan.    I  used to buy one a turn almost every game, and have realized over time that the money draw is what is giving the USA a major advantage on the water it can use to eject you from SZ 6, so I changed my play and dont go for the factories until later, if at all.



  • @taamvan:

    I agree that the factories are considered standard early play for japan no matter what turn you attack, and they are the reason that the US can consistently defeat japan.    I  used to buy one a turn almost every game, and have realized over time that the money draw is what is giving the USA a major advantage on the water it can use to eject you from SZ 6, so I changed my play and dont go for the factories until later, if at all.

    Defending sz 6 can be done with carrier purchases and using planes you already have.  Keep 1 carrier, 1 destroyer and maybe a cruiser on J1, add a carrier J2 and J3, keep bringing planes home for defense, which isn’t a big issue with the mainland as you sub in land units for air.  This allows you to move enough South to keep your transports afloat and to more quickly bring in ground troops on the mainland.

    Usually sz 6 looks like this at the end of their turn:
    J1 1 carrier, 1 destroyer, 3-4 planes (counting Japan itself) - collect about 40 ipcs
    J2 2 carriers, 1 destroyer, planes vary depending on U.S. (if they bought for Atlantic, no worries), collect 50+ ipcs
    J3 4 carriers (if U.S. is active in Pacific), 1 destroyer, 8-11 planes

    Usually J4 and later is when I’ll start adding subs and bombers because if its gone according to plan, J2 has Money Islands locked down, J3 is Malaya…  with the benefit being that, by now, I’ve added 6 mechs and 2 inf/1art to the mainland army (mechs up north, slow movers in FiC) and income is around 60 ipcs at end of J3.  If things are going well, on J4 you can invade the Soviet Far East and can easily spare the ground troops, to help gobble up some income if Germany can use the help, or push far enough into China to bomb Moscow, or just go hard at India but without having to commit your entire fleet.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016

    It’s not that you can’t build mainland factories and defend SZ 6, it’s that it’s hard and limits your options and your growth. If UK Pacific and Russian Siberian troops are staying quiet, and the US is pounding on your door, then the factories are a liability – you don’t need them to stalemate China, and by saving the cost of building and filling the factories, you can push the US fleet back to Queensland or even Hawaii, which gives you space to take and some of the money islands with your transports. The same trick you’re talking about – using pre-existing planes to fill Japan’s new carriers – can also be used to gain a brief but useful naval superiority against the USA. If the USA is still building Pacific warships on turn 7, even if Japan is only making 40 IPCs a turn (coastal China, Philippines, Borneo, Malaya), at that point the European Axis are probably about to take Moscow, so the USA will have to abort its Pacific operations and switch to 100% Europe before the USA can even build the transport stack that would be needed to deal a fatal wound to Japan. If you’re facing a serious KJF, Japan’s goal is to survive and keep the USA busy, not to explode into a monster. Building warships can be a better way to keep the USA busy than building factories.

    Of course, if the USA is ignoring you and the Chinese/British are stacking Yunnan, then you probably do want some mainland factories. It’s situational.

    As far as the broader question of weird Japanese strategies, I’d like to see a suicide-transport attack on ANZAC sometime. If the US only has 1 or 2 transports in Hawaii, and you can get 4 transports to Queensland, and ANZAC has been building mostly transports to shuck its infantry to the money islands, sometimes the Australian mainland gets seriously under-defended. Your 4 loaded transports should be able to survive a weak US attack and then conquer Sydney the next turn with support from strategic bombers – it’s easy for the USA to crush your fleet off the coast of Queensland, but hard for them to get fighters or infantry to Sydney on short notice. I think it would be hilarious if ANZAC was earning 28 IPCs and then Japan pockets their treasury. You won’t hold the capital forever, but it’s an interesting way to shake things up, and it can give you the space you need to consolidate the money islands.



  • I wonder if there is a plan where you can get Japan into Europe and not lose Asia at the same time.


  • 2019 2017 2016

    @Argothair:

    It’s not that you can’t build mainland factories and defend SZ 6, it’s that it’s hard and limits your options and your growth. If UK Pacific and Russian Siberian troops are staying quiet, and the US is pounding on your door, then the factories are a liability – you don’t need them to stalemate China, and by saving the cost of building and filling the factories, you can push the US fleet back to Queensland or even Hawaii, which gives you space to take and some of the money islands with your transports. The same trick you’re talking about – using pre-existing planes to fill Japan’s new carriers – can also be used to gain a brief but useful naval superiority against the USA. If the USA is still building Pacific warships on turn 7, even if Japan is only making 40 IPCs a turn (coastal China, Philippines, Borneo, Malaya), at that point the European Axis are probably about to take Moscow, so the USA will have to abort its Pacific operations and switch to 100% Europe before the USA can even build the transport stack that would be needed to deal a fatal wound to Japan. If you’re facing a serious KJF, Japan’s goal is to survive and keep the USA busy, not to explode into a monster. Building warships can be a better way to keep the USA busy than building factories.

    Of course, if the USA is ignoring you and the Chinese/British are stacking Yunnan, then you probably do want some mainland factories. It’s situational.

    As far as the broader question of weird Japanese strategies, I’d like to see a suicide-transport attack on ANZAC sometime. If the US only has 1 or 2 transports in Hawaii, and you can get 4 transports to Queensland, and ANZAC has been building mostly transports to shuck its infantry to the money islands, sometimes the Australian mainland gets seriously under-defended. Your 4 loaded transports should be able to survive a weak US attack and then conquer Sydney the next turn with support from strategic bombers – it’s easy for the USA to crush your fleet off the coast of Queensland, but hard for them to get fighters or infantry to Sydney on short notice. I think it would be hilarious if ANZAC was earning 28 IPCs and then Japan pockets their treasury. You won’t hold the capital forever, but it’s an interesting way to shake things up, and it can give you the space you need to consolidate the money islands.

    Interesting post.

    I’m still not convinced that there is any viable strategy which involves building no factories on the Asian mainland. Only being able to build 10 units/turn is a serious limitation. Also, once China is defeated and India is down, the income from the money islands becomes a lesser share of the Japanese income than what it is in the early rounds. And if the money isn’t going to India, it has to go to some other power who presumably has to bring their units over the sea rather than having a factory to produce them out of.

    I tend to agree that 4 is usually too many unless you’ve done a late DOW when it may be needed to counter the mass of infantry India will have. 2-3 is about right, although I can accept that if you take down India J3, you might get away with building only one. I haven’t tried that last bit though - it may still be needed to have 2 built factories.

    One more thing. If Japan is huddled up in SZ6, there is no amount of navy it can build to compensate for a heavy sub build over several turns by USA. Japan’s ability to put carriers under existing planes is very finite. Those US subs attack on a 2 and for the price of a loaded carrier you can get 6; the subs then have more attack power and more hits. Perhaps it will put out a DD blocker every round but that wears it out, particularly if USA moves up to Midway or Wake and builds a naval base - they then need 3 blockers. So you are only delaying the inevitable loss of the seas by the IJN. For that you are sacrificing the land campaign? I hate this idea to be honest.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016

    Very interesting. I’d agree that Japan usually wants at least one factory in China no later than turn 3, even if you’re primarily playing a naval game. It’s rare to see a board where you’d want zero factories, although I believe it is a possibility. You can use up your limited 10 production slots pretty easily when you’re building serious naval units. Even if you’re pulling in 80 IPCs a turn, that can usefully go to something like 1 BB, 1 CV, 1 DD, 1 SS, 2 trans, 2 inf, 1 art, 1 tnk.

    The USA sub build is a special case, because subs are optimized for killing your navy, but subs are bad at protecting American transports. If the USA builds more than 3 subs in the first 2 turns, then you do want to build Japanese factories, because, as you say, the subs make it too difficult for Japan to protect its fleet, and the subs also make it easier for Japan to nuke any transports that the USA tries to bring west to take over your factories. The USA is rich, but it can’t afford to build a huge sub stack and a huge carrier stack and a huge stack of loaded transports all in the first few turns, even if it ignores Europe altogether.


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