From: Fairbanks, Alaska
ORIGINAL: Commander Cody
I did a no-Sov AI vs AI run and as of mid-43 Singapore is still Allied, most of the DEI is Allied (barring Menado and a few bases in that area; interestingly a few Java bases have the Union Jack symbol, implying a counterattack). IJ has Luzon, but the rest of the PI is Allied. Clearly this scenario isn't meant to be played vs. the AI.
It's not. Japan certainly has the resources to do more (see my AAR vs a human opponent here for proof), but I don't have the AI scripting know-how to make it happen. A skilled human player can use the additional carriers available to them at game start to devastating effect, essentially controlling multiple theaters at once with the massed air power of the KB, KB-2 and "KB Light" - a CVL/CVE group.
Currently in my PBEM game, it's early February and my Japanese opponent has taken Singapore, pushed me back to the Chunking Plains in China, has cut off Vladivostok's rail link to the rest of the Soviet Union, is on the verge of taking Rangoon, has taken all of Northern Australia and Port Morseby, is on the verge of taking New Caledonia and has cut Java in half.
I sort of feel that rather than offering variant play, and unique alternative histories, that the trajectory of large mod projects for this game is going to lead to the Ultimate Yamamoto Mod--where the Japanese start with every hex in the game but the East Coast, but by 1945 the Allies will be awesome.
Or, alternatively, Ultimate Yamamoto Grand Campaign 2--designed around the old movie Final Countdown--where every contemporary Super Carrier jumps back through time, but somehow gets confused and decides to fight for Japan--but don't worry, Allied player, there are lots of new toys for you! In 1943 the Armada of Lizard Aliens arrives and shares their tech with you.
So I'm a relatively new player, whose only experienced stock and a couple turns of a Dababes-C PBEM (Always as the Allies), and I see stuff like this, all of the included "toys" seem interesting; however, the way it seems to always work out is to exaggerate historical outcomes... look at the Japanese go wild and occupy everything!
However, to be honest, that doesn't that fun to me. It seems, on it's surface, rather than making for a fight, it just increases the Allied player's inferiority, where many would just want to pull the Sir Robin, but twice as fast, and twice as complete.
I think I'd personally be far more interested in a lot of the mods if I looked at AARs using them, and instead of seeing "Look at ALL of Australia fall, Japan in Canada, Japanese Pearl Harbor, and China completely conquered!" it was more "look at this epic struggle for Australia... who will win, its too close to call!?"
Just me though.
Balance in WitP:AE is a tricky, elusive thing.
I share your concerns over early Japanese blow-outs followed by late-game allied steamrolling, and I hope in Focus Pacific I have provided the tools for both sides to keep the outcome from being forgone conclusion every step of the way.
What I've found in my playtesting is that the most decisive element in Japan's expansion isn't its ground forces, or planes, or even most of their navy, but instead lies in the KB and its roster of incredibly talented pilots.
A Japanese invasion supported by the KB or KB-2 (or even KB-3 in Focus Pacific) is very difficult for the allies to counter in 1941-42. Up until the introduction of the Hellcat in early-mid 43, opportunities for the allied player to gain a favorable result against the KB are few and far between against a Japanese player who concentrates their carrier force and adequately supports it.
I'd love to see same the kind of close, vicious, epic struggles that you do, but in Focus Pacific just like in stock, those struggles come later in the game.