The Almighty Turtle
Rice and Nami have added in far more than I feel like I could. But as a Western Allied player who has a bit of a masochistic streak for playing the Big Yellow Punching Bag, I do feel that I might be able to add in a few things. Ultimately, China is an unglamorous side theater, but you can still do a surprising amount of damage.
First: I think the key thing to remember is to play conservatively and defensively, but relatively aggressively. Your primary strategy should be to build up and maintain such formidable "troops in being" that you can deter the Japanese from attacking beyond Foochow. And ideally to be able to defeat them if they try, but this is a gamble. So memorize exactly what Japan's garrison and supply requirements are, so you can tell what you're likely to be hit with, where the Japanese will be weak, and so on.
Do not try to launch grand offensives with the intent of wiping the enemy from the map that often, but try to sucker the Japanese into attacking you when they're not really ready for it when you can, and make A Lot of small, harassing campaigns . Militia are your best friends for this. They are generally free(ish), they don't dramatically take away from the crucial defense of your home front (which you *really Need* professional troops for), and best of all you don't massively lose if they die but you do gain if you win.
If by some chance the Militia survive and achieve a hit, the next turn they will become regular Infantry, which is a massive upgrade. That way you can (and should) be able to save the resources you'd otherwise need to dedicate to making dedicated Infantry to making militia as well as flak and artillery (more on those later), and have the militia go through a sort of trial by fire to get you your regular Infantry. The human cost must be ghastly, but Chiang and Mao do not care, and ultimately China can afford it.
And if a raid by two militia against-say- one infantry results in one dead militia, one wounded infantry, and one promoted Militia it is a net profit. Most of the time. That will need to be scaled up considering the size of the Chinese land war, but you get the idea.
Likewise, you spawn free militia if the Japanese attack you. So if you can goad them into doing it with a less than overwhelming force and you somehow lose less than you gain, you can actually build up your forces through Japanese attacks.
Secondly: have a fallback plan in case of the worst possible scenario. That means building up Singkiang as much as humanly possible as a production facility and supply base. If you by some chance get the ability to transfer factories or resources there, consider Doing It. If you judge the Japanese wrong and you wind up losing heartland China, this place will be your only conceivable way to come back in the game. So keep what resources and (quality) troops you can afford there. Also I'd suggest thinking about invading Tibet, because it can (somewhat) shorten the province gap between Singkiang and the front, and you miight be able to open up Western Allied supply over "The Hump" of the Himalayas.
But again, your main emphasis is on holding the provinces furhter to the East by building up a formidable enough "fleet in being" in the mountains and valleys of Changsha, Chungking, etc so that you don't have to consider it.
Onto Flak. Don't even bother building airpower. Or if you have to don't wait until well, well, Well Well after. You're never going to be able to compete with the Japanese air forces on their turf. So don't, and strike a low blow. Flak is comparatively cheap to produce, easy to mass, and very formidable for Japanese pilots. So build those instead of planes and keep your existing air units on reserve (preferably one step behind the main line).
Stick enough of these together and you can and should insulate yourself from Japanese air attack bleeding out your factories and other resources, or at least make them pay badly if they ever show up over your skies. And considering how crucially Japan depends on its' veteran/elite corps of airmen, that is not a minor step. Reaching this level is a crucial step in the development of China and its' power, because from there you get a freer hand and more resources to pursue the war with Japan more aggressively (at least relatively).
However, at no point should you overemphasize these to the detriment of your land forces. China can't fly away from the Japanese. You can only lose the war on the ground. So at no point should you leave yourself (overly) vulnerable to that.
But once you *Do* have Flak, start cranking up production on land, and consider shifting the production focus to be more professional: Infantry rather than Militia, and including Artillery. These will be your war winning (such as it is) tip of the spear if you have one at all.
Why Infantry? Because they can compete with the Japanese on a closer-to-equal basis. Why artillery? Because they add firepower to your infantry units (Including- IIRC_ militia. Keep up some production of Flak for offensive purposes, and for what might happen later.
If you see the Japanese start to draw troops off somewhere, Hit Them. Decide whether or not you want to actually make a serious attempt to go after it (probably not) or this is just a punitive raid to wear down their garrisons and undermine the occupation (more likely), but know that the more troops fighting the Western Allies in the Pacific, the fewer they have to shoot at you with in battle, and so the fewer troops they *can* kill. Conversely, the more troop they have in China, the more free reign your allies will have in the Pacific and beyond.
If by some reason you actually take a region (possibly by accident), consider carefully whether or not you actually want to hold onto it. You likely won't, especially if it is on the East Coast where the Japanese can bring all of their firepower to bear. But if you can by chance retake Foochow and the Japanese have been sufficiently worn down in Southeast Asia while you have been sufficiently built up, you might want to consider it. Likewise, consider whether or not to repair resources.
If the Japanese will come back next turn, Don't Do it. Just more supply out of your pocket. On the other hand if you feel like you can hold your ground long enough to repair and move it, consider doing that. And if you are there to stay, the same applies. Though you still might want to consider rebasing your resources further West. And of course, remember to transfer some flak to keep the bad old days of the Japanese terror bombing your resources from coming back.
By the time you can consider serious campaigning against the Eastern Seaboard or Southeast Asia (where you will have to decide whether to annex it or give it back to France and the WA), the war is probably late and the Japanese should be starting to feel the heat with the naval, land, and resource losses to the Western Allies (above all), you, partisans, and the Soviets if they have entered the Pacific War. This should be showing in weaker Japanese garrisons in China (and weaker types of them; Infantry where there might be air and land combiend arms, Militia where there might have been Infantry), increased inability or unwillingness of the Japanese to move their troops on Mainland Asia around, decreased shipping of them in *or out*.
If it's 1943/44 and you see the same OOB in the Japanese provinces you border turn after turn after turn (whether or not it is necessarily good or bad for you IE: if the Japanese garrison remains weak from lack of transfers, or strong Japanese garrisons aren't transferred out), it's probably a good indication that this is going well.
This is where I think the Chinese player at long last *might*- just *Might* start to have their time of glory.
Begin stockpiling and preparing for major campaigns against the Eastern seaboard and/or (more likely or) Southeast Asia. Step militia production back up again and consider diverting troops to make Japanese attempts on Changsha or or the tiny territories due North of it more likely. Decide immediately what you are going to do with Southeast Asia if the problem isn't solved for you by then.
I would almost always suggest giving up French Indochina to the Western Allies unless you are in that fantastic of a position, are that expert at playing China, or are that fanatical about Roleplaying Chang and the Vietnamese KMT's ambitions (if you are drawing a blank on that, it's safe to say the "fanatical roleplayer" bit does not apply for you in this case). The dip to WA War Readiness is almost always more important than the ability to have a(nother coastal) province (exposed to the tender mercies of the IJN), and the ability to consider marching into Siam or beyond. It will revert the situation back to it being *their* problem rather than yours, and focus your power for the truly important effort in the Northeast. And at long last, consider building up some bona-fide airpower in your base in Singkiang and Changsha. By this point the supreme, uncontestable Japanese airpower of the bad old days should have gone down in flames to the Western Allied war or be otherwise occupied, so having a couple might be a good investment to deal with land based planes or to try and snipe the occasional unprotected transport.
Decide where you want to make the first strike, but I'd suggest making it in the South. Against either Foochow or Canton.
I'd almost suggest goiing at Foochow first, in order to force the Japanese army into a tiny pocket at Canton that you can then fall upon with your masses of troops. You should be able to defeat them, and even if Japanese ships lie offshore any units retreating will be damaged or destroyed, and even those ships probably will not save all the units from the slaughter.
At that, the Japanese will likely try to counterattack Foochow. Decide whether or not you want to fight them for it until you can consolidate your position in the South , or whether you want to try and make an attack further North to sever the overland connection to Manchuria and Korea and possibly pocket the Japanese troops in Shanghai or a newly-reconquered Foochow. If you are more conservative (and you probably should be if you've made it this far) you would probably mass for an attack on Foochow with your troops and then slowly push up the coast into Manchuria. if you're more daring you might try and replicate the Canton encirclement. Whichever way you pick is up to you, but take care.
From here, it's a straight up push through Manchuria and into Korea to expel the Japanese from the continent.
At this point in time, it should be all but over. Japan's navy sand air force should be on their knees, and with the loss of their army of occupation on mainland Asia they should no longer have the resources to threaten China or any of mainland East Asia ever again.
Pat yourself on the back, because this is faaaar more than most Chinese players (or games) ever get to. You have mastered what is probably The Hardest challenge this game has to offer besides *maybe* Japan. And now it comes time for rebuilding.
Pull your victorious troops out of Korea and back into Manchuria. This way you can avoid being encircled in Korea by an amphibious landing in your rear, but still have a ready force to push any Japanese landing force into the sea. Begin repairing, with the emphasis being on inland resources. Consider leaving coastal ones unrepaired until you can build up a flak presence or try and shift them into the interior because the Japanese can still attempt raiding.
If you truly, Truly want to do more after this herculean accomplishment, dedicate your efforts to building up an air force, paratroopers, and maybe- MAYBE- a small, easily-defensible-in-port navy. Go hunting for soft naval targets the Western Allies have missed and sink them. Attack any isolated Japanese air units with overwhelming might. If Taiwan or Hainan is still in Japanese hands, consider an all-aerial blitz of fighters, bombers, and paras to seize it.
If the War drags on further, perhaps even consider how you can help end it by attacking other island garrisons. Or perhaps even the Home Islands themselves?
You have nothing left to prove at this point, but if the Western Allied AI proves retarded and the game does drag on that long, it might be worth considering. But in any event, savor the victory, Generalissimo. For you have done the impossible!
Note: it is also somewhat possible to occupy French Indochina (and by extension Siam) very Early, if by chance the Japanese do not deploy sufficient troops to tie you up or defend French Indochina. However, this is a risky business and generally not worth keeping since the full terror of the Japanese air and naval forces can be brought to bear on you and occupying it with the Vietnamese KMT will dip WA War Readiness, and that's even more important in ealry game than in late. Perhaps the most productive way to do it is to attack, defeat the Japanese, and then turn it back to the Western Allies.
At the very least, this will give your troops a free move back North and protect your flank by making it the Western Allies' problem again. And if it is before the normal Japanese entry, it's likely doing so will push the Western Allies into the Pacific war that much earlier (possibly as much as a year and more). This can only be beneficial to you if you can pull it off, but it is a long shot.
In terms of technological investments... there simply aren't any. R&D is a luxury China cannot afford, especially without huge Lend-Lease and an enemy on the back foot.
In terms of intelligence, your main focus should be on cranking up your own security (again, by far the weakest in the game). At the start the Japanese have a massive intelligence advantage (as per historical; just ask Doihara) that will let them hit that much harder. Wearing that down- like everything else about the Japanese- is your primary intelligence objective, and might as well be your Only One for most of the game.
If by some chance you are able to do that, you might consider going on the offensive. Start getting into the Emperor's war cabinets and rifle through their notes to steal what research they have. A lot of it won't be of much use since it's for the navy, but it's better than nothing. And that sort of skullduggery (most likely on the Japanese, possibly on others if you are *incredibly lucky*) is the only plausible way to tech up as China.
China is by far the hardest power to play as in this game. It has the weakest military, the weakest industry, the most limited capabilities for power projection, the weakest technology, the weakest growth rate, the fewest potential allies, and no immediate prospect for relief. On top of this, it's being asked to balance a lot of very difficult things at once.
Learning when to raid and when to build up, when to switch production, when to retreat or hold your ground, or when to move are all crucial. It'll probably take a fair bit of effort to get there. But eventually you will.
I hope this helps.
< Message edited by The Almighty Turtle -- 11/6/2014 7:43:25 PM >