• Did a writeup on Japan to Alaska a few times I think on Steam, came up again on Discord. Putting an outline here so it won’t get lost.

    Used to be a paper “Trans-Siberian Express” or something like that from Revised. Japan to Alaska in KGF isn’t new, some of the details are different between Revised and 1942 Online but whatever.

    Why Japan to Alaska? Not because US builds a fleet to counter (too expensive). Not because US has to build in W US. It’s a timing shift.

    Say Japan dumps to Buryatia, which then goes to Yakut, Evenki, Archangel, Karelia. Every space with infantry is “wasted” in that they’re on their way somewhere important, rather than being important of themselves. Getting into details about Evenki, or Yunnan-Szechwan-Kazakh or through India, I’ll leave off.

    What about the necessary infrastructure? By that time Japan should be running 6+ transports, what with Africa, Australia, etc, but none of that is real pressure, and excess transports don’t really help Japan’s infantry stream timing against Moscow. Japan built transports early, but now they’re not being used much, so what to do with them?

    Probably Allies are beginning to pressure Germany. What does Japan do to pile on pressure? Depends on the game, maybe tanks through Asia hits a timing, but I won’t get into that here.

    But let’s say Japan dumps to Alaska. What then?

    1. You can get alternate transports between Japan and Alaska, feeding 6-8 units into Alaska a turn. (I won’t discuss the tradeoffs except to say it’s not great for Japan, but it does mean Japan’s Alaska push has to be taken seriously.)

    2. Grab Hawaii. Shouldn’t be a VC victory because Allies should have pressed into Europe by now, but it’s something.

    3. Threaten West USA. There’s this thing where Japan builds carriers and lands fighters on to secure W USA under some conditions.

    The above happen, but no real threats there with normal dice against competent players. But they’re the “obvious” answers to address before dismissing.


    When Japan lands bombers on Alaska, both East Canada sea zones are threatened, which means Allies need to split defensive fleet (as opposed to having undefended empty transports off East Canada). But Japan’s air also has range to France / NW Europe, as well as Finland.

    Then there’s the things that happen when Japan can push into Western Canada and land fighters, develop a threat against Eastern Canada, blitz into Central United States.

    One stack of Japanese bombers threatens multiple RELEVANT sea zones in the Atlantic, can be used in CONJUNCTION with German ground, SIMULTANEOUSLY West US is threatened, US’s troops on East Canada are threatened, Japan has economic pressure if West Canada is left undefended with blitzing into Central US.

    None of that is game-ending, especially since US Pacific survivors should be arriving in Atlantic right about then. But at the very least, US will probably have to let up on pressure in Europe.

    And what does Japan give up? 8 infantry on Alaska is a lot nastier immediate pressure than 8 infantry on Buryatia. Or Yunnan. Or moved from Burma to wherever, probably. This is the “timing shift”. What would be irrelevant until three turns down the line is instead immediately relevant, with Japan’s shift.

    What if the Allies overbuild on navy to prevent Japan from doing this? In RESPONSE to Japan building bombers, say? Then Allies are slower to reinforce in Europe in the first place, also acceptable.

    What if invading Alaska “fails”? By then Japan should have Africa and Australia (maybe running around with a skeleton fleet for cleanup, but the bulk of Japan’s transports no longer urgently needed to develop timings or pressure). So Japan really doesn’t have much use for excess transports. So how does it use them? Japan heads towards Hawaiian Islands anyways. Japan wants more income (Alaska). It’s just sort of the natural development.

    And if Japan had a winning game pushing stacks into Asia in the first place, then Japan doesn’t invade Alaska. Capture Moscow, consolidate, push Allies out of Europe, win.

    Japan to Alaska in KGF is one of the timing shifts used in an air-heavy Japan, just another tool in the toolbox. Japanese bombers on Alaska is the easy spot, there’s some variants I won’t get into but the general idea is the same.

    If a player is building (probably Manchuria IC) and trying to push major Japanese stacks then that’s an entirely different strategy. There, it’s like the Axis are locked into trying to build Japanese-majority-stack in Asia, so that’s the Axis game plan. Japan to Alaska in those games can still happen but probably shouldn’t.

  • 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.


    1. In KGF (if KJF, then Japan hitting Alaska is opportunistic / “best chance”.
    2. 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.)
    3. 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.

    1. 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).
    2. 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.

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