I am not as experienced as many of the other members on here, but I thought I’d share my thoughts since they’re considerably different.
In my games Japan almost always attacks J1 (and imo this is probably the best axis strategy). In response, the US spends 100% of it’s income and units against Japan until the threat is neutralized. I think that we can all agree that the only way to completely neutralize Japan (the same as it was in real life) is to eliminate it’s fleet. With no fleet Japan can’t retake it’s islands or protect itself from convoy raiding, so even if it still has ~20 IPCs from Russia and China, Anzac and India and can easily liberate China and thus end Japan.
I think a problem that a lot of people are having is that they want to destroy the Japanese fleet at all costs, without accomplishing the real focus of a "K"JF (never actually killing Japan) which is removing Japanese income and giving it to the Pacific Allies. Once the Pacific Allies (China, India, ANZAC) can easily advance on Japan alone, it’s over for Japan.
So what is the flaw that I’m seeing in people’s strategy against Japan? They aren’t being aggressive enough in their builds, especially with the US and ANZAC. The US (even with ANZAC building full defensive fleet to augment them) will never be able to match the combined strength the IJN and the Japanese air force in this game. Maybe by like US 9 or 10 if they’re going full KJF they could manage it, but by that point Germany has definitely taken Moscow and is probably only a turn or two away from taking Cairo (if it hasn’t fallen already) and the game is over in Europe before the US has even reached Gibraltar.
This means that the goal of a smart allies player isn’t to survive a full-on assault by everything that Japan can throw at them (which we all know is A LOT), but to pick Japan’s money apart and force their fleet to retreat to the mainland (and hopefully eventually destroying the fleet). But how is this accomplished?
First, I almost never take the Carolines, let alone stack there. Two big problems, and a small one, with the Carolines that eliminate the benefit of more options over Queensland:
1. The Japanese can move all of their air to the Philippines and that air has 3 potential landing spots (Marianas, Paulau, and Marshall). This makes it really easy to force the US to retreat.
2. ANZAC isn’t defended. This really limits what ANZAC can do since they can’t really put any units in Queensland and have to worry about a potential invasion. ANZAC is (imo) the most underrated power and crucial to the success of the US in the Pacific.
Small problem: In my games the Caroline Japanese units are just stuck there doing nothing, while taking the Carolines will cost a US unit or 2 (depending on what is first sent there).
We all know that Japan needs the money islands to compete with the allies income-wise, and that they tend to base their fleet at the Philippines. What my strategy tends to start with is building offensively as the US. You still need some defensive elements, which I use Carriers for since fighters are so useful (I tend to have 4 full US carriers at Queensland by US5 (in a J1), but it’s whatever you need for limited defense). I use destroyers almost exclusively for blocking when I need it since I want to be attacking the IJN, not vice versa. That’s where the subs come in. They are the most efficient offense, and also provide beneficial trades as you can force Japan to trade destroyers for US subs, which is a great trade for the US. The US’s goal should be to do whatever it can to force the Japs out of the Philippines. Once this is accomplished, the navy should move forward (blocking if necessary) and continue to try to destroy the Japanese navy. Eventually the Japanese will be trapped and the US will be able to destroy them (which they should do even if it means mutual annihilation).
Now something that I’ve left out at this point is US transports, but there is a reason for that. Many of you say that the US fleet is useless without a huge compliment of transports (like 8?) accompanying it. I strongly disagree. Since the US fleet is so easily block-able by Japan from the DEIs, they often can’t take any islands on their turn. If they US can’t take islands than those transports are wasted. Maybe after the Japanese fleet is destroyed more transports can be made to accelerate the Allies advance on the mainland, but until that point I don’t believe in extensive transport spending. The US starts with 3 transports, I tend to buy 1 or maybe 2 more and that’s it. ANZAC should be doing most of the island taking while the US focuses on the primary goal, destroying the Japanese fleet.
What should ANZAC be doing during this time? Harassing the Japanese as much as possible. They should be building only transports (and units for the transports) and subs. A typical ANZAC build is one art, one transport, one sub (only costs 17, and ANAC should be making 19 from 10+5 for the easy NO+ 4 for Java). They should either own Java or be trading it every single turn, and picking off a lot of Japanese transports (Japan does not want to be building transports if it’s in an arms race with the US). Eventually ANZAC will probably want to build a minor in Queensland in order to produce more units (i.e. once they are holding Java and trading other islands/Malaya). If ANZAC can use it’s income to destroy an equal or greater amount of Japanese income (which imo can only be accomplished if they are trading with Japan instead of being defensive), it’s doing an excellent job.
If ANZAC (and China while it’s still alive) and India is surviving (which if the US is going 100% Pacific, India shouldn’t fall), the US should be strong enough to force the Japanese fleet to retreat, and eventually destroy it. Now I’m not sure how well this will work, but I’m just curious to get some opinions on what seems to be a different approach than what some other people are suggesting.
I may have no idea what I’m talking about, so I’d love some opinions on my overall strategy. Thanks guys.