@cornwallis Samoa is a clever place to build a naval base; I did not see that it connects to both New York and Queensland. That’s really interesting that you are able to redirect forces that quickly. For me, though, the question is whether the tactical surprise is really worth the investment. On the one hand you’ve got the $15 for the naval base in Samoa, which is expensive. On the other hand, by committing to travel through Samoa, you take pressure off of many of the potential Japanese targets.
As you move boats from San Francisco to Hawaii to Queensland, you are incidentally threatening Tokyo, Korea, Iwo Jima, Wake, Midway, and the Caroline Islands.
As you move boats from New York to Samoa to Queensland, you do not threaten any of those targets – so unless you want to slow down your attack on Japanese hot spots by a full turn, you are kind of broadcasting to Japan exactly where you are going to attack.
Meanwhile, unless Japan panics and commits an unforced error, it’s usually not that hard for Japan to reorient from a land-based strategy to a naval strategy. They start with a massive air force that can be used on land in China, Burma, Siberia, etc., and then that same air force can be flown away and placed on newly built carriers to defend the Pacific islands. Even in a worst-case scenario, where Japan built 3 minor factories on the mainland, they can still pivot to building something like like 3 carriers, 1 destroyer, 5 infantry, and 1 artillery for $75. The carriers accommodate the existing Japanese air force, and the infantry/artillery continue the fight in mainland Asia. The US has to build its own planes, and defender has the advantage anyway, so matching that defending Japanese force would require something like 3 carriers, 2 subs, 3 fighters, 3 tacs for $123. Throw in a couple of loaded transports for $30 so that you can actually retake some of the money islands, and the total bill is $153…basically two full turns of American income just to match one turn of Japanese spending, even when Japan is caught totally by surprise.
Similarly, the European Axis might think that they have to do a lot of defense against an incoming American invasion of Italy or whatever, but as long as they planned that defense intelligently, without panicking, they can still take Moscow on schedule. Right, like so you have a couple extra Italian infantry in Rome instead of a tank, or you have a couple of German subs in the Baltic and it turns out you don’t need them because the whole Allied fleet sailed through the Panama Canal. OK, no big deal. The infantry in Italy can eventually go by transport to Morocco or Syria or wherever they can be useful for harassing the British; the extra subs can go to the Irish Sea for convoy damage. Meanwhile, hopefully the Germans mostly did their defense by buying air power, which can both threaten to shoot down Allied ships, or, if those ships never show up, can fly to the eastern front and support an attack on Moscow.
So while I do like the Samoa naval base for the sheer amusement value and for the chance to break a psychologically weak opponent, I think it’s probably not a valid element of top-tier competitive play. I’m stumped to see how you could recover enough value from the naval base to justify the cost.
One idea I have been playing around with recently is a naval base in Wake Island. It probably only works in Balanced Mod or Path to Victory, because without the extra national objectives for the smaller islands the extra range just isn’t very important, but it’s always bothered me that ships are only moving 2 spaces from San Francisco to Hawaii – it seems inefficient. If you move them 3 spaces from San Francisco to Wake, then another 3 spaces can threaten the widest possible range of Japanese targets, as well as making it harder for Japan to protect Tokyo by interposing a single blocking destroyer.