Some posters on Discord are saying how the Allies player counters Japan’s invasion of Alaska is dependent on “player level”. Sure.
But magical abilities are being ascribed, and it should be understood there is no magic.
For example, I read a “top level” player will supposedly “defend” Alaska. How, exactly? When, exactly? Is it magic?
The first post is to players that already have a very good grasp of what’s going on, telling them this is the timing, the timing shift, the opportunity cost, and so on.
This post is more basic.
Assuming Germany doesn’t have early advantageous dice against USSR (or other disasters), assuming Germany is not in a position to dash forwards and crush Moscow before the Allies can really do anything, the game takes a slower pace. Germany and Japan build up and move towards Moscow; UK and US carry out their own development.
But let’s give some concrete numbers. Suppose Japan decides to attack Alaska early. Why would Japan do this? If the US player was very silly, and only then. Generally at the end of J1, Japan should have made whatever opportunistic attacks to start choking USSR’s income. Every unit sent to Alaska is a unit not sent to Asia, and any units Japan dumps to Asia next turn from the Alaska transports will have to be to Buryatia or Manchuria, which is far from India; India has an existing industrial complex that UK uses to disrupt the Axis, and controlling that industrial complex is a big boost to Japan. For reasons I shall not get into at this time.
So the only reason why Japan should hit Alaska J1 or J2 (or generally early), considering it detracts from the basic Axis strategy, considering it detracts from what is normally one of the Axis’ stronger tactical focuses - is if Japan does better to hit Alaska somehow. Which amounts to US overextension. Which shouldn’t happen.
So Japan should not invade Alaska early, unless Allies are super unlucky or super bad. Or unless the Japan player just wants to have fun; games don’t have to be about “winning” or “losing”.
What about late in the game? Supposing the Allies go KGF?
We must first talk about tanks and opportunity costs. Suppose US buys tanks. A single transport can transport, say, two infantry, or an infantry and a tank. Though tanks are expensive, they can blitz (probably useless if dropped on France but whatever), and they are more efficient defenders than infantry. So should we expect that the US has lots of tanks? Probably not. Because infantry are much cheaper than tanks, and we may expect that the US will use IPCs to buy more transports and infantry.
But there are other reasons to buy tanks, specifically, tanks on Western US defend Western US and threaten Alaska. Tanks on Eastern Canada are ready for US’s usual KGF transport routes and also threaten Alaska.
Then there’s also certain things about timings at Finland. But suffice to say that building a heavy tank force is quite expensive, and though I expect US to build a few tanks, I don’t expect heavy investment.
Yes, three paragraphs to go over things that veteran players already know very well. I did mention this post is more basic.
Those things said, what can we reasonably expect of a Japan to Alaska invasion? Let’s say reasonable worst case.
REASONABLE WORST CASE, JAPAN TO ALASKA
In KGF (if KJF, then Japan hitting Alaska is opportunistic / “best chance”.
After Japan takes India (before capturing India, Japan needs its transports to speed attacks on India. Even afterwards, one or two transports may be used for Africa and/or Australia.)
US has a few tanks East Canada.
All makes sense? This is as bad as it gets for Japan hitting Alaska. But let’s throw in a few more things that we also know, if we think about it.
Japan isn’t making good progress supporting Germany in Europe. (If Japan were doing great with Germany, who cares about Alaska, just smash Moscow and win).
Germany’s position isn’t hopeless, or near hopeless. It just needs a “little more”.
Okay. Now let’s say Japan dumps 2 units to Alaska, 4 units, basically a distraction. This is not the supposed “hard counter” that a lot of players are talking about on Discord. It’s just Japan saying “hi”, now Japan is +2, US is -2.
Now what is the magical defense?
Obviously if US has a pile of infantry on West Canada, then US smashes Japan in Alaska and sits there, and Japan can’t really do much about it. (Remember, we expect Japan to have 8-12 ground on the followup, plus up to six fighters, a bomber, two battleship and a cruiser support shots, plus maybe some more air power, who knows.)
Well, if US was sitting on a huge chunk of infantry on West Canada, then let’s really think on it. Somehow, the Axis are not doing particularly well, despite the US holding back a huge chunk of income on a threat that Japan never even needed to commit to? Then why are the Axis generally doing not so hot in Europe?
You see the magic? Where did this perfect defense materialize from? It comes from the assumption that somehow the Allies are basically already winning.
But let’s make it a little less magical, you say? Let’s say there is a small infantry reserve on West Canada? Well, that infantry reserve will get blown up by Japan’s counter. So really, US needs a lot on West Canada. That’s just how it is.
But US can use fighters against Alaska? Most of US fighters are in or near Europe. They simply haven’t the range.
Bombers? Again, out of range.
But the US fighters and bombers are NOT out of range, one claims, if they are held back? True, but then we again have the situation where US is pre-emptively holding back counter forces, and considerable forces at that, against a potential Japanese invasion.
We need more magic!
Then let’s say US responds late to Japan’s attack. That is, Japan secures Alaska on the initial or the followup.
Then everything I wrote in the initial post is true; Japan threatens multiple locations with a single stack of units; US must pull multiple defenses or come out the loser, Axis units that would not be really relevant until a few turns in suddenly become immediately relevant.
This is just the numbers. The situation. The timing. The logistics. No magic involved.
Japan to Alaska isn’t about some poorly considered premature invasion that pulls away from Axis strategic and tactical goals.
Nor is Japan to Alaska about some late game Hail Mary, trying to brute-force some solution. This is what some posters are saying on Discord, but it’s not about that at all. It’s about pulling a US response, where US wants to invest more in the defense than Japan needs to on the offense, because US wants local superiority of force, Japan gains income from invasion while US is merely reclaiming, and US cannot really afford to lose, given the multiple threat development of Japan.
If US does not respond to the threat with sufficient force (including taking reasonable chances and getting unlucky), then Japan captures Western US. That shouldn’t happen, but Japan may still fuel its invasion with traded territory income. But those are both actually silly scenarios. What probably happens is, US responds “late” (if not, then US was paying an opportunity cost for a threat that never needed to materialize), then US has to keep shoveling resources into repelling the threat, then after Japan switches back to Asia, US’s logistics chains are inefficient for some time while US readjusts, and the majority Allied stack holder may be severely disrupted at least.