We got the game yesterday. We did not have time to schedule in a full game but we played a short game of 2 rounds.
Apart from the very dissapointing contents of the box (we paid 80 euro in Holland, the equivalent of 120 dollar) which already have been addressed by others, here are some FIRST impressions of the actual game.
Japan is HUGE. 25 somewhat airplanes, lots of naval units, enough infantry for the landwar and a very decent income to START with. The allies have very little resources and lots of it gets killed on J1
Our group cannot imagine how you could lose with Japan (but again this is a first impression we could be wrong). As we see it Japan should take Phili in round 1 (kill US bomber there) and take out the UK fleet at Malaya. Japan’s main fleet should then move 3 spaces (naval base) to Malaya and next turn move into the position to take out India. In the meantime contain China (which was wiped out in those two turns almost completely) and ignore USA. After that Japan could take out Anzac and fend of USA. Small UK and Anzac cannot possible defend against concentrated forces.
Maybe it is better to split your forces (you have enough to do so) and take on UK and Anzac simultaneously, but we haven’t figured that out yet. Australia is relative easy to reinforce by USA. And by the time India falls you might be too late to take out Anzac.
Of course I hope we are wrong and the game is neatly balanced. :-)
The new units are cool. Tac bombers are very usefull. Try to pair them with fighters on Aircraftt Carriers. However we did not see much mech action.
One other thing. There was some talk (by Larry?) that the USA had a motive to keep a large fleet based at Hawaii (so Pearl would be re-lived again). Our US player thought differently and kept the fleet safely at the west coast to build it up first. But when we finised our test game we saw that there was a route from Japan to Hawaii of only 3 spaces (with a naval base). This means that Hawaii is constant at risk and this is probably the reason why you have to base a fleet there (or at least make it a deadzone for Japan).