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Subject: Japanese Strategy rss

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Dale Morrell
Australia
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I am playing the Day of Infamy scenario as the Allies. I have owned this game for many years but have only started playing relatively recently, I do, however, have a lot of wargaming experience. My opponent is relatively new to the game and wargaming in general.

After the first few turns (the Japanese never got an impulse with good enough weather to invade before the US DoW) it was clear that the Allies were going to win, however, we are playing on to the finish - even with overwhelming men and material the actual conquest of Japan is proving to be bloody hard!

So after that preamble, I would like to solicit opinions on the advice that I offered my opponent after the opening turns. Specifically, is it the wisdom of the ages or a crock?

Here it is:

Aside from the tactical considerations, I don’t think that you seeking this battle was in your strategic interest. At the risk of sounding patronising, which is not my intent, I will elaborate.

This Game

You had really, really, really bad luck with the weather in the first 2 turns. I don’t think the weather was good enough anywhere for you to invade. Meanwhile, I was getting stronger and getting my garrisons in place – in a global war I would have been doing that anyway. You then had really, really, really bad luck with US entry – I picked up 12 at the end of the JanFeb 42 turn; before that I was 0 -1 after I was 7 -1! My declaration stymied your opening and allowed the US and British fleets to combine before you took our naval bases in the South China Sea.

If you like, we can stop this one here and try again. Alternatively, I have never launched (or defended) an invasion of Japan and that now seems like a strong possibility; I would be happy to swap sides and play from here.

I think this scenario really needs to give Japan a guaranteed impulse of clear weather up front (the Germans get one in Fascist Tide and the Global campaign, @#$% it!)

If you had had decent luck ...

Your forces were far too concentrated. You need to capture a lot and the surprise impulse is the best time to do it. You start with 3 TRS and 1 AMPH and 5 DIV – that means you can launch 9 invasions in an impulse! A surprised notional without a + has 0 factors so such invasions are automatic (playing 1d10 table) – even for a 1 factor DIV. If you can cut supply even a notional with +1 is a 0.

At the start of the game, the British have no carriers and the US carriers are in the USA.

The objectives and major ports you can hit given 1 impulse of clear weather (which I know you didn’t get!) are:
1. Singapore – Not a city so notional will be 0 – how strong is the garrison?
a. Ungarrisoned: (unlikely) take it with a division,
b. Garrisoned: align Thailand, sail into Sawng Kla and march down Malaya. 1HQ and an INF – the HQ can then reorganise the 2 TRS for the next wave of troops.
2. Manila – A city but easy to cut supply – Macarthur has 5 factors, a 5 factor MAR and 2 factor MAR DIV with full shore and air support is 4:1, a 90% chance of success. If you ground strike him (difficult as it is jungle), it becomes 5:1+1 (100% success). Don’t like those chances? Land on the resource which you can immediately use and smash him next turn – you can risk an INF division as Macarthur is OoS or, if not, would have to abandon Manila to fight you.
3. Batavia – 2 factor MIL + 1 notional (can’t cut supply as it is primary for Dutch troops), 7:1 is automatic with +1 so 21; if 7 are from shore bombardment and 7 from air you need 7 on the ground. Your 6 factor MAR and a 2 factor DIV should do it. If you want to gamble, the 5:1+1 is a 90% shot and can be done with the 5 Factor MAR alone.
4. Rabaul – 0 notional – 1 DIV
5. Pago Pago – Ditto
6. Dutch Harbour – Ditto
7. Suva –Ditto
8. Columbo – can be put out of supply and is not a home nation so ditto
9. Hong Kong – walk in from Canton

The nearest allied major ports to Japan are all 3 sea areas away (Colombo, Brisbane & Honolulu). You can stop there – garrison the major ports strongly, preserve your fleet and react to allied moves. Alternatively, you can try for Australia, India, Honolulu or even the Middle East & Africa (the 2 map nature of this makes the Allies particularly vulnerable if you can take Aden and South Africa – virtually no production for the CW and all CW reinforcements in Canada – you turn it into a one front war with sideshows in India and China)

More general speculation

Question: How does Japan win this game (not how do they win the war – they couldn’t)?

Answer: We don’t care because we are playing for fun but if we were being competitive ...

Japan has to do 2 things:
1. Not be conquered
2. Have more than its historical objectives (9)

To do this it needs
1. The right mix of units
2. Oil to use them effectively

Objectives

At the start of the game it has:
1. Tokyo
2. Port Arthur
3. Shanghai
4. Taihoka
5. Saigon
6. Truk, and
7. Kwajalien

Historically, they captured (all in JanFeb 42):
8. Batavia
9. Singapore
10. Manila, and
11. Rabaul

The Allies (re)captured:
1. Kwajalien (JanFeb 43)
2. Manila (MarApr 45)

Historically they were within striking distance of Japan but had bypassed most of the objective cities in the game.

So, you start with 7, you need to hold 10 or more. The 4 they captured historically should all be secured – they are major ports within striking distance of Japan – the Allies need 1 or more of these to conquer Japan.

What others are achievable?
1. Vladivostok – in a 4 map game this is worth a shot – it helps Germany too. In this 2 map game it’s not worth rousing the Bear.
2. Chung-King & Lan-Chow – again in a 4 map game this can be done BUT possibly at the expense of your fleet. Japan can be conquered only by the CW/US and your fleet can prevent/delay this. If you are doing well elsewhere the Chinese will struggle to threaten what you have in terms of resources and victory cities and your troops are needed for Pacific garrisons and an India or Australia thrust. A slight edge in troop strength is all you need to maintain, perhaps securing hex 0531 (which gets you 1 resource and denies the Chinese 2 by breaking the rail line) and Si-An as you have done. In 1939 I would definitely build ARM and maybe a MECH; by 1941 it may be too late but as a mobile reserve and ultimately to face the Russians it could be worth it; for what they cost, you could have a carrier though.
3. Columbo, Dutch Harbour and Pago Pago can all be grabbed easily – they push your perimeter outwards and may divert allied attention – they are hard to hold but if the Allies go for conquest and fail you may still have them at the end.
4. Calcutta is a bastard – a swamp (defender doubled) surrounded by rivers (attacker halved) and a primary supply source. Like Leningrad but the swamp never freezes.
5. Delhi, Theran and Svelovak are all too far inland – Japan is a naval power – Germany can have them if she wants them.
6. Aden is doable in the 2 map scenario and in a 4 map if the Germans have closed the Suez Canal.
7. Diego Suarez can be got free before war at the expense of US entry (15 ouch!)
8. Canberra and Auckland are possible but they need a reasonably large land investment and the US does not need to fight you for them – to take Japan they can roar straight across the Pacific. Like German units in the UK they may become effective Prisoners of War.
9. Honolulu is doable and the US has to take it back – you won’t hold it for long but ... 4 months wasted by the US here is 4 months less to take Japan.
10. Stuff on the America map – don’t make me laugh!

Needs

Japan has to secure its resources – it needs to push its perimeter so far that:
1. It secures the resources it needs to have full production and store some oil
2. It keeps allied SUBs away from its convoy line (South China Sea, China Sea and Sea of Japan) by occupying the ports within 2-3 sea areas of them to the east (where the long range US SUBs are) 1-2 to the west (where the shorter range CW ones are)
But not so far that
1. its interior lines are not overstretched (i.e. where can a Task Force in the middle get to in a reasonable sea box (3 or 4))
2. it has enough GAR, INF & MIL to garrison the major ports (preferably with white strength units for when they get cut off) while still being able to establish a home defence force. You cannot count on bringing troops home from China when you need them as the US can send them to a watery grave (maybe).

Short range NAV and FTR can cover the convoys, long range NAV and FTR are for perimeter defence with the fleet a big task group in Truk facing the US and a smaller one in Singapore, Batavia, Saigon facing the British

Japan has a maximum of 18 PP, if the US devotes half its production to fighting Japan it has 20 and a much better multiple. China has 8, the CW can spare 4-8. Japan cannot out-produce its enemies. This means it will ultimately lose – unlike Germany, Japan cannot realistically break the Allies – even if it occupies all of the Pacific and Asian maps, US production is unharmed and CW production is reduced but not extinguished. Even if it has all its units on the map, this area is too big to occupy anyway, let alone capture.

This drove my thinking in looking for a big battle in the South China Sea. If I can trade CV for CV, in 12 turns I will have more CV than I started with and you will have none. You should have snuck your fleet past and supported invasion sites behind me – Rabaul was undefended, Truk had not been converted to major port status – my SCS fleet is then forced to base in Manila or the Malay/India region – take the ports out from under me.

Japan should only fight when a) it has an overwhelming advantage or b) it has to. This means defend your convoys and look for opportunities to disrupt the US timetable – while your fleet exists and is uncommitted he has to keep a reaction force – those CV & BB are not assisting invasions.

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Appleton
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Generally you provided good advice here. I would add just a few more caveats:

1) Protect your oil supply at all costs, if playing with that rule.
2) Build out your Land-based air and CVs, and create "kill zones" for unwary Allied players.
3) Don't be afraid to build up force to get a really good attack, even over several turns. Low odds attacks only kill valuable units.
4) In a regular 4-map game, much of the attention from the enemy should be on Germany. So this game is actually harder than a full-blown-game from a focus point of view.
5) Generally the Japanese player would consider offensive actions until the Essex carriers arrive, and then there is rough parity, making any offense problematic.
6) Later, in the war, trade your fleet for time. You get no VPs for the fleet left over at the end of the game.

Game on!
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Bruce Jurin
United States
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Wiffe is a tough game for beginners, with so much to do. Japan is hard to play strategically (even for Grognards!) because there is much to do, but specifically the US is the military threat but other areas provide strategic resources and VP's - so walking the line takes expereince. Furthermore, choosing whether to defend with land units, air units, naval units is also hard, and getting the mix right (which of course depends onthe strategic direction) is also hard.

But one issue that I find is common with beginners, perhaps the best advice I can give:

You don't win the game by having a large BP built army/navy/air force, you win by securing objectives.
I used to say that if I have battleships left with the CW at the end of the game I made a mistake, they should all be sunk! :-)

For the CW/France, I usually say - it is more important to slow the Germans down than to evacuate/preserve your forces. (Of course this can be taken too far also, but beginners tend to BP count).

For Japan, my usual view is that a lot of Japan's (especially in a 4 map game) try to keep the US out of the war as long as possible - clearly 2 turns of US entry has a large impact on the forces avialable. However, for Japan, you must make the invasion surprise turn count and count big.

The historical turn for the attack,, N/D 41, is a good turn to invade because you usually get good weather. In general, for a beginner, I recommend attacking on that turn and play a few times before you get enough experience in alternate strategies.

Day of Infamy is one of my favorite scenarios. As Japan I do attack on the first turn; I don't hope to get good weather or delay the US entry, I opt for the ability to hit hard and fast.

The historical Japanese strategy of building a perimeter is a good one. The US will try to commerce raid with subs and cruisers, and the loss of the convoys is a killer to Japan.

I agree with Dale's assessment on the use of planes and subs, good advice! Try to keep the carrier force as a reactive force to keep the US hoenst. In this war, the 'fleet in being' can be a big deterrant. Try to force the US to invade by stacking all of its forces and then try to use land based air to fight the Essexes. (US players - don't forget to bring carrier planes to the front as extras!)

We have played this scenario a lot, and we find it very well done, either side can win. Believe it or not, we often find that the CW in the Indian Ocean can be the difference maker. Getting a few BP's off board each turn can lead to a huge army in India in 1944 that can hit Saigon and threaten Formosa and the area. Land bases are hard to come by in that area so taking these cities can be really important.

My strategy tip for experienced players: Often the game is won/lost in a few major carrier battles. KEEP AN O-CHIT FOR USE AS A NAVAL O-CHIT! I always felt they were perhaps overpowered. So try to get the fight within range of your HQ and play that o-chit, if the main carrier fleets fight 15 BP's is a paltry sum for their value.

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Appleton
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Breunor wrote:

You don't win the game by having a large BP built army/navy/air force, you win by securing objectives.[/b] I used to say that if I have battleships left with the CW at the end of the game I made a mistake, they should all be sunk! :-)


But, Bruce, think of all of their little cardboard wives and children, screaming out in horror as thousands of little cardboard men perish in the glossy paper sea!
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Bruce Jurin
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philreh wrote:
Breunor wrote:

You don't win the game by having a large BP built army/navy/air force, you win by securing objectives.[/b] I used to say that if I have battleships left with the CW at the end of the game I made a mistake, they should all be sunk! :-)


But, Bruce, think of all of their little cardboard wives and children, screaming out in horror as thousands of little cardboard men perish in the glossy paper sea!


I'm just mean!

:-)
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