If you use US troops to take a 1000 VP base, but lose 4000 men doing it, you've moved closer to losing by auto-vic. Consult the Victory conditions portion of the manual; the Japanese have a large VP advantage in device casualty effects over US, British, Indian, Aussie, etc. forces. The only place they don't is in Chinese and Filipino forces. The Sovets are equal to Japanese rules.
The key to auto-vic is ratios, not absolute totals. In the air war, for example, you don't gain or lose against him unless the heavy bomber versus other type ratio is unbalanced between you (and even then he has unlimited and you have fixed pools, so it's complicated.) In ships it matters most what types are sunk and less how many, within a quantity distribution. It's possible to sink so many low-mix that the numbers overcome missing all of the heavy combatants, but it's unlikley you can do this.
So, the key for an Allied player skating near losing by auto-vic is to look for ways to skew the ratios in your favor. Looking at the rules alone and not bringing in anything relevant from PH's AAR, two options for you might be to look to kill Japanese troops in the open countryside of China, even at occassional loss ratios of 1:2. If you can use infantry to kill pure devices like AA or base units so much the better for your risk profile. But China is a place where you can bleed Japan of VPs in an acceptable way if you stay away from city sieges and husband your Chinese supply in such a way as the best bleeders get the most support.
A second way in your specific game (and here I'll be a broken record) is to go crazy with your subs. Each has a relatively low VP risk if lost, and in May 1942 you will lose very, very few even if you do "crazy" things like harbor penetration. But a low-VP sub can reap many multiples of its value even if sinking xAKLs and other low-mix crap. With non-dud fish you could easily come back several thousand VPs before 1943 heaves into view, if you use your subs appropriately for the era and dud state you have in hand.
< Message edited by Bullwinkle58 -- 9/5/2012 3:53:18 PM >