A little discussion started over at the 'what are you playing' thread, but since that doesn't seem to be the right place to discuss a specific game I thought it would be nice to have a group for this game.

I have played around 6 games so far, always as the Japanese and these games were quite close in terms of who eventually crossed the line as the winner. My problem is that the Japanese do have extreme limitations in what they can do to react to Allied fleets (especially in the mid- to endgame) because everything either costs Transport Points or Oil Points while the Reaction Movement is totally free for the Allies. Lee asked me something over at the other thread, so I'll answer that here because it may function as a starter to the discussion on how to have an interesting game for the Japanese.

[Lee:]I think if I was playing the game, I would play slow from the beginning and preserve my oil enough to be able to react to the Allied fleet movement.>>

That's of course an option, but keep in mind that the Japanese player must capture VPs (islands, bases) because if the VPs ever fall to zero he's lost the game. So being too slow and defensive in the open game could easily make the ice really thin then. Even if you have oil left for later turns then it could be too late because the less VPs you captured in the beginning the more the Allies can concentrate on these spots later when they can build the big fleets. So far the only problem for the Allied player was to get all these VPs back before time runs out.

[Lee:]It sounds like the Japanese don't have too many options available in the game.>>

Yes, that's my impression indeed. In my first games I started with full force to get as many VPs as possible and these games were close in terms of who would win. But I as the Japanese player couldn't do much in the mid- to endgame, just watching and hoping that the Allies would fail in recapturing all these bases.
Historically it's safe to say I think that Japan had no chance to win the war but they were nevertheless fighting hard and any decision on the Allied side what base to take and how etc. was a hard decision because they would have to face a battle hardened enemy and they knew it.
In FitS there's not much decision to make since usually the Allied fleets are near unstoppable (Denny likes to call this the 'god-fleets') no matter what the Japanese can bring in to the place of action. So sometimes one gets the feeling of playing a Solitaire with the clock as the real opponent.

[Lee:]Do you like FiTS? I haven't bought a copy of it yet. Good gaming!>>

Still not sure whether I like it or not but I would like to do so. It's of high quality, the map is fantastic, the counters are great and big, the rules are not that long and so it could make for a nice starter wargame etc.. The mechanics are interesting, it has a certain level of abstraction that feels right and the overall impression is a positive one. I'm aware that there's always the possibility that you are doing things wrong (not regarding the rules, but the tactics) but actually I can't see what can be done to have an interesting and powerfull Japanese play. As I said the game is balanced when it comes to who will win because it's not easy for the Allied player to bring down the VPs in time, but it's obviously not balanced in terms of interesting gameplay/options. Even the Allied player hasn't much fun because the Japanese isn't the enemy here - it's the clock.

So, how are you Japanese commanders playing the game?

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I slowly played PBEM this great game, but only from Allied side yet. Would love to try Japan too...

I understand the extreme need of Japan to economize Transport and Oil, so main effort would fall on the most effective firepower - carriers for 'fast' actions and land troops for prolonged struggles. Anything cheaper, or that saves naval Ops, may be decisive (e.g. taking Lae, then attacking to Port Moresby over land).
Did you see much use for naval support ? destroyers to protect merchant convoys from submarines ?

I found moderate losses (even in carriers) are irrelevant for Japan, as the main limitation is supply anyway. But 1:1 'queen exchanges' with US carriers are always worthwhile, as the US ones will operate 'for free'... often twice (Reaction movement can still attrit Japanese air bases).

Operating far enough back (Port Moresby, or behind Truk) is advantageous as US will need supply to attack (and even more to react), while Japanese lines shorten.
Hello !

Interesting discussion about FitS. This game has really become one of my favourite of late and I have played it a lot.

So, for the Japanese, I think that a slow play in the beginning or even in the middle game is doomed to failure.

There are two axis of offensive in the game, either India or Australia and its bonus 2VP.

As a Japanese, I tend to aggressively attack in the SE area of the map. Lae is a must as a landing in Gudalcanal. This all-out assault is hard for the US to contain, combined with an overland attack on Port Moresby, for it is far from Pearl Harbor and the USA. Look too for target of opportunity. If the US player removes the planes from Ellis Island or Midway, go for it. One tactic to use extensively with the Carriers is to react and strike US 1 and 2 planes with a task force of two carriers and two destroyers. It will cost you oil (4.5 or 5) but it will put the US in the ropes. With an inferiority in carriers number for half of the game, he has to rely on land-based airpower. The inconvenient with this strategy is that you use a lot of oil, and only carriers task-force are used, so no BB support !
If you manage to capture Port Moresby and Guadalcanal, you are in a excellent position to cut the supply line between Australia and the USA, with several objectives at hand. The US player will have to extend himself and be vulnerable.

Another trick is the calcutta gambit. Against the British army, you can easily take Singapour and Rangoon. With 4 points of air units here, you deny the British player his capacity to easily reinforce it with Air units. Reaching 17 points is not overly too hard. You start the short game with 5 points, add to it Manille 3, Rangoon 1, Singapour 3, Attu 1, Lae 1, the rest of the Philippines 1, NEI 1, the area west of Lae 1 and maybe even Guadalcanal. Once you reach 17 points go for Calcutta with overwhelming force. Land an army with heavy carrier and BB support. That will leave you dry, but may give you victory.

Without an auto victory, the Allies will take the initiative from you. Truly, the US fleet is a massive warhammer, but make a pest of yourself. All you have to do is to make him lose time. Do not hesitate to land in area the US player has just taken, as the fleet will have returned to the USA. If you have managed the preserve the fleet, he will have no choice but to commit "god fleet" as your friend says. But the US can commit only one god-fleet by turn, at least during 2/3 of the game, and this rate of offensive is not fast enough to win the game all the time.
If you engage battle, go with all your air force and target the transport. An aborted landing is a one turn delay ! Take advantage of your land air forces. As you will be pretty static now, move your precious points out of reacting forces during the first deployment, leaving just one point for its ZOC, and bring them forward on your second deployment. That won't cost you much, but it will deny for a time valuable targets for the raiding US carriers task forces.
Put 2 or 3 DD in escort duty, that will help a bit against the subs...
I agree with most of this strategy. Japan must take advantage of its early superiority to make the Americans fight before they are ready. The best place to do this is Port Moresby, and secondarily Guadalcanal. If these fall, an auto victory is within reach.

Carrier exchanges where both are sunk are ok, but if both are damaged this is not so good for Japan since they have a limited ability to replace their air crews. Keep the naval air steps available for replacing lost CV air crews.

I disagree with attacking Calcutta. There will be a British army there (unless the Allied player makes a very bad error--in this case by all means attack) and it is nearly impossible to kill it in a single attack. Every turn a replacement starts in Bombay, deploys to the Gangetic Plain and flips the army back, all for no cost. On the other hand, maintaining the offensive costs Japan tons of transport and oil. Best to put an army and max air units in Rangoon and just hold, reinforcing occasionally to replace losses inflicted by the Brits.

The best route to an auto victory is cutting the supply line to Australia. Threaten this strongly and the USN will have to use all its resources trying to stop it and will have no time to counterattack until at least 1/3 of the way through the game. The trick is to get the timing right to go over to the strategic defensive. The garrisons will hold for a turn a decent fraction of the time even with no support. All they have to do is get the same number of hits as the Allied ground unit and they will just flip.
Just started it again as Japan from Turn 1, thought this strategy is 'clever' but not ! I tried to take Surabaya at earliest, on Turn 1 to spare needing to escort against the Dutch later.
But too much transport used (2 to bring division from Kure, 4 to invade) so after Second deployment of air forward, no transport left to take oil from Surabaya next turn...

I think better I should have tried earliest *Lae* instead. Accelerates the schedule on Port Moresby: T2 the 2-strength moves laterally to Hollandia and 2x4 transported to Lae, then T3 attacks start on land without any Ops and Transport requirements... (of course, some support is nice)


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