From: Iowan in MD/DC
I've always held that the correct concept is concentrated resistance, rather than "lines." The IJA will break through eventually, and then you've got wasted troops. Better to concentrate them on the defensive, IMO.
But hey, I've lost China too, so maybe I'm wrong as well.
With Stacking Limits concentration occurs in every hex. If you're defending the roads only, you can still only put 65k troops on those in the better spots, 20k on some spots in the mountains. What do you do with the rest? What do you do if he moves into a wooded hex you haven't invested and gets control of it, and that hex has access to 3-4 more hexes behind your roadblock?
It means you picked a poor roadblock .
The rest should be moving back, back, back. I understand that you can only stack so many troops in the backfield as well. This comes with the disclaimer that I've never played with the SL map, but the IJA can still just push right over the Chinese if they want to. It requires prioritizing certain deployments.
With SLs, I suspect that my approach would be to modify the concentration of troops. You can't stack it all in one hex, obviously - but you can stack it in a small ring. A strongpoint of hexes rather than just one superstack. Look at the terrain and pick locations. I've already stated my opinions on your chosen foremost MLR and won't restate them here in case GJ is reading... There are a couple of obvious defensive locations in central China for small areas of concentration. Yes, they're farther back than Changsha, but you just can't do it up there, IMO. All of this is just speedbumps, part of my larger view that China is indefensible (even with SLs, I think, which just slows things down) and that the Allied goal here should be speedbumping and trying to bloody the IJA's nose when possible, buying time before those IJA LCUs are committed in Burma or other theaters. Buying said time prevents the Japan from establishing a large buffer in Burma/India (although you already have that against GJ), which is a major Allied strategic goal, IMO.
Viable areas for doing so:
1) Kukong and the surrounding rough hexes. Know that whatever you put here is going to get cut off and destroyed.
2) Chihkiang to Kweiyang. You can defend the 4 road crossings here and they are important roads for the IJA to hold if they want to move on Chungking. You can try speedbumping at Changteh, but he can just skip it, really.
3) Kweilin - speedbump here, because he can't skip it if he wants to use the railroad to Tuyun. If the IJA is impatient, you can establish lines of retreat up the goat track to the north.
4) Kweiyang, and the area just north.
I don't think SLs changes the big picture of how the IJA should advance very much. The same bases remain important. Defending in the middle of nowhere between Changsha and Kukong doesn't do the Chinese any good. Same with defending between Ankang and the central valley. The IJA has the ability to just circle around you, even through the rough hexes, so why waste your troops in the middle of nowhere?
If anything, SLs may make China even more impossible once the IJA reaches Chungking - the Chinese will become massively overstacked due to the resurrection rule, and suffer enormous supply and disruption penalties.
An MLR in an SL game is a way of saying you've maxed out the hexes the enemy has potential to attack and kept reserves behind to fill in should he gain some advantages in certain areas. It isn't putting troops in unnecessary hexes, because if you don't cover those hexes, as in real warfare, your opponent will simply move there before you can and he will have an advantage.
In a game without SL my opponent put 69 Chinese units in one hex, a road toward Kunming where there is little hope of going around. That works without SL, but with them concentration has to occur along a line of defense as well as in depth behind the front lines. There is no room for all of the troops otherwise for one, but of course this allows mobility and tactics to take precedence as well, which is why it's such a better game with SL.
MLRs themselves cover unnecessary hexes in China, IMO. The units are going to be getting an even smaller flow of supply if they are off the good roads. In India and Australia, MLRs may make sense.
IMO the Chinese should largely go into the western mountains and hope Chungking holds long enough to serve your strategic goals. You can also try a "rope a dope" by tempting the IJA to penetrate deep and early, and then closing their supply lines - delaying them more than if you'd just fallen back steadily.
Look at the SL. You'll soon notice that whether you say concentration or MLR it comes to the same thing. The map dictates where you can hold for a time, and you put troops where you have the best chance to do that. The ones in the woods aren't wasted, they're a deterrent, and with SL a very cheap one. You can still have concentration and have a front covered and maxed two or three hexes deep where the IJA are pushing, if they happen to be pushing. If they are not, then it might be best to cover the areas where they could go. Especially since there is little or no recon to give advanced notice.
Rope a dope? Good luck with that. That implies strength to last through plenty of punches. The Chinese just can't do that at this point.
They can move behind lines as guerrillas, but those are going to be shattered units bombarded from the air and hounded by tank regiments. If it's not possible to hold the line, how will the Chinese hold the block after letting the IJA through?
Not if the goal is strategic delay rather than "victory."
It's the two or three hexes deep along an entire line thing that I think is wrong and a wasted allocation of forces. Really, it's the concept of a line as an enormous defensive unit. My first/only attempt at installing SLs wasn't successful, but I intend to rectify this and if I can figure out how to set up a test game... I can quickly demonstrate, with the units available to both sides, exactly what I'm talking about.
That, or prove myself wrong.