It looks to me like you're in a very good position really. He has danced around with his CVs, sunk yours but has really neglected the strategic layer. I would suggest the following 3 phase strategic plan...
Phase 1: Green arrows in the accompanying picture.
A. Consolidate your Chinese forces into good defensive terrain ( this may mean advancing into cities Japan holds in order to gain the urban defensive bonuses ) in order to maximise the efficiency of your Chinese forces. This should allow you to free up 1/3rd of Chinese combat power. I would then suggest you use that combat power to push west into Burma to re-open the Burma Road.
B. Build up your Southern Indian bases, Imphal, Kohima etc... and then use Allied forces (including some Americans... these are essential for maskirovka purposes I'll outline later) to push south into Burma and re-open the Burma Road. You already seem to have forces 1 hex away from cutting the railroad to Myitkyina just 2 hexes north-east of Schwebo ( 2 hexes because that hex is jungle/rough terrain with nice defensive bonuses while the hex just north of Schwebo is clear. Your Chinese forces could move into Lashio, blocking the Japanese there. Put another unit into the 2 hexes north-west of Lashio to link up with the guys blocking the Schwebo/Myitkyina road and you will stop supply flowing to Myitkyina. At that point in time Myikyina should fall quickly and easily allowing you to bring Allied units ( British, Indian, US ) to attack down through the nice open terrain at and south of Schwebo.
C. Reinforce the bases you currently hold in the southern DEI and begin pushing northward towards Mindanao... This also has the benefit of cutting off the Southern SLOCs for the Japanese to get oil, fuel etc to the Philippines and Japan... This forces them to use the South China Sea to transport anything to Japan, simplifying your submarine war and meaning that if you ever get LBA onto the southern China coast Japan can basically kiss all benefits from holding Java etc goodbye. The number of bases close to eachother in this region will also maximise your LBA, allow you to save many ships damaged in surface combat and prevent KB from intervening safely... It can still intervene but every time it clobbers one base it runs the risk of being hit from 3 or 4 others. Eventually IJN CVs will start to be damaged and die.
D. I'd also keep the pressure up be island-hopping ( mostly under LBA cover ) across the Pacific north of Rabaul and from Guadalcanal to Rabaul. This isn't going to be a decisive thrust but it will force the Japanese to keep sending garrison troops to Pacific Islands and allow you to attrit their LBA and KB airgroups. He won't be able to resist using KB time and again to blunt your threatened invasions. At that point it is a numbers game. If he risks KB 10 times in a year to blunt the next island hop then, eventually, he'll get unlucky and a sub or bomber or mine or SC TF will get a hit on an IJN CV. Another benefit of this is that every time KB appears in the Pacific and suffers losses blunting an invasion there you can unleash another landing in the DEI... and vice versa. I don't mean a week later, I mean landing within 2 or 3 days of KB appearing elsewhere.
E. Maskirovka Operations
E1. You hold the island to the west of Java. I'd build it up, begin reconning Java repeatedly, particularly the western coastal hexes. I'd also consider running a few DD SC TFs into Javan SLOCs from time to time. Just 2 DDs per TF or even a single DD per TF will do fine. I'd also ship in a few good defensive units ( CD, lots of AAA, a Bde or two of troops and lots of fragments of other units. Eventually your opponent will recognise the recon, spot the units, possibly even bomb it a bit to gain more intel about whats there. At that point in time you can talk about building it up to protect KB from cutting your SLOCs to India, being a base for recon of Java in prep for your eventual invasion of Java etc.
His options then are:
a. Reinforce Java to resist invasion - a win for you as every IJA unit in Java is an IJA unit which isn't preventing your advance in Burma, Malaysia, Vietnam or China.
b. Invade the island - a win for you, even if he takes it, as again these units aren't in the theatre of decision and his cutting this SLOC to India doesn't prevent you using other, slower SLOCs and re-establishing rapid SLOCs once you take the Philippines.
c. KB strikes on the island from time to time to kill ships in ports etc - great, the AA will kill lots of KB planes and pilots.
If he points out the number of fragments there vs full units just reply that his recon and your fear of KB meant you are ferrying units up in small convoys to minimise losses and sometimes get scared and run back to Oz or India with them. He will love hearing this as it feeds into his assessment of KB and himself.
E2. North Pacific. Lots of recon, perhaps even some commando-style raids on any bases he hasn't yet garrisoned. Just try to get him to increase garrisons and deploy forces there.
E3. During the thrust towards the Philippines you'll have to take bases close to Java in order to have mutually supporting LBA bases. If it comes up during convo just also be sure to point out that they would be good kicking off bases for amphibious invasions of Java. Again, he'll have to defend against that and every IJA soldier sitting in Java, an island you don't ever intend to invade, is as useless to Japanese forces in China as if they had been killed in the ground war there.
This phase should be accomplished by the end of 1942 fairly easily.
Phase 2 - 1943, Red Arrows
A. Once the Burma Road is open you can use British, Indian and Chinese forces to push down into Malaysia and Vietnam whilst pushing other forces into China ( particularly engineer units to build up the bases rapidly and get supplies flowing ). As the bases build up and supplies flow you can push more and more combat power into China. The key point with China is only to commit as much combat power as you can supply. If you push in more than you can supply you actually end up weaker than if you had fewer, but supplied troops.
Obviously the long-term plan is to open up the good rail network from Malaysia and Vietnam into China and solve all of your supply problems that way.
B. Take China by pushing eastward and southward. The southern push to take Hong Kong and other such coastal cities is to give your LBA the bases they need to sink Japanese supply convoys running close to China.This will push them south to the northern shores of Borneo ( they can't go south of Borneo because you'll have taken the bases there and cut that SLOC ). The eastern push is the push into Korea... You should only do this once the British, American and Indian forces have taken all of Malaysia ( ideally including Singapore ) and are freed up to help.
This can be supported by a push into Vietnam and Malaysia... The push into Vietnam is very helpful in securing additional routes of supply into China. The push into Malaysia and southern Vietnam isn't necessary but it helps to complicate the enemy strategic situation, bolsters the narrative of an upcoming invasion of the DEI and helps promote Japanese misallocation of reserves, thus improving the odds that your main thrust in the theatre of strategic decision will be successful as at low a cost as possible.
C. At this stage Japanese supply convoys will have two options:
C1. run the gauntlet around Formosa - where you should be concentrating subs and have LBA ranging.
C2. run along northern Borneo, into Manilla, ship the supplies to ports in the Eastern Philippines and then ship from there into Japan.
Either way you can concentrate your subs and harass them with LBA based in Mindanao ( and nearby small islands ) and southern China.
Ideally you would push into Korea. What you want to do there is decrease your commitment of US, British and Indian troops as you move through Korea. Let the Chinese take the lion's share of the losses the further south you move into Korea. Why?
D1. You actually want to rest your US, British and Indian forces for the invasion of Japan.
D2. You want him to notice, ask and be told that you're doing D1. Nothing will win you Korea more rapidly than telling him you're not worried about taking Korea but already planning for the next step.
People always think that maskirovka is about deception and lies. Sometimes it is but it is ALWAYS about shaping the ground to your benefit. Many times shaping the ground to your benefit can involve being very honest about what you're doing and why... and letting that knowledge gnaw at your opponent. I'd have no problem telling my opponent that the reason I was resting British, US and Indian troops as the invasion of Korea progressed was so that I could invade Japan as quickly as possible once Korea fell. Once your opponent hears that their thoughts will turn to the invasion of Japan, they'll begin prepping for that and that'll make the invasion of Korea proceed apace as forces which might have gone there instead stay in the Home Islands.
Once you get to Mindanao I also wouldn't be shy in telling your opponent precisely why you did that and I'd be happy to tell him why the Southern Chinese bases would be so important to me. Sure he might throw more forces into defending them once he hears that but the more airplanes and troops and ships he throws in defending them the more will be removed from his ORBAT when they fall.
E. Invading the Philippines is optional. It really depends on:
E1. How much spare force you have available to you that you cannot deploy into China rapidly
E2. How much you need to divert his reserves from China.
E3. How much you want to mess with his mind and put him under mental pressure.... By this point in time if I wanted this game to continue into 1944 I'd be concerned that my opponent would quit if I invaded the Philippines so you'd have to bear that in mind if you choose to invade them. On the other hand it is good practice and would completely cut off his SLOCs from the DEI whilst providing you with much shorter SLOC from CONUSA to China.
What I mean by this is that you could, if all goes well, move units and supplies from CONUSA, through the Marshalls, to Mindanao, then up the Philippine coast west of Manilla and into southern China, greatly shortening the time taken for new US forces to enter the land war in China/Korea once you have taken the Philippines.
Personally I'd invade the Philippines because it allows you to complicate his strategic situation and invite him to misallocate ground forces from China, thus speeding your romp into Korea.
You should then find yourself entering 1944 with:
a. Your USN CV fleets replenished,
b. Japanese supplies in the Home Islands in a critical situation
c. Many experienced Allied ground combat formations rested and prepped for Japan.
Home Islands invasion from the unsinkable aircraft carrier that is Korea.... if you want to test strategic bombing Korea is also a great base from which to carry that out. Hell, even twin-engined planes are great strategic bombers from Korea.
Even if your opponent plays to the death this should be over no later than March 1944. I wouldn't expect it to get that far though. I expect that once he sense your shift to a new land-based/under LBA at almost all times strategy, asks you about it and you confirm it to him he will attempt a few KB interventions, find them unsuccessful and unsatisfying and probably concede/argue that you're going against the spirit of the game/argue for HRs to be imposed to prevent your plan.
Obviously you're free to do what you want but the basic thrust is that those bases he has left you in the southern DEI are a dagger poised at a critical weakness ( his SLOCs to the HI ) and are relatively easily exploited. Combine that with a rationalisation of the Chinese defences, freeing up of 1/3rd of that army and its redeployment into Burma in a co-ordinated effort to isolate and then take Myitkyina and then pushes south and east and this should be over as a competition by September to December 1943 with the invasion of the HI to follow in March to June 1944. I think it should be an interesting game from your perspective though and a great opportunity to see how you can defeat someone who, theoretically, has much greater combat power to bring to bear. The problem with that combat power is that you can render much of it ineffective by refusing naval engagements far from your LBA and render other large portions of it irrelevant by forcing it to be garrisoning islands you don't need to invade.
They key to all of this ( and something your opponent clearly hasn't done ) is to decide now how and when you want to win this game and then measure EVERY day's decisions against that grand strategic objective. If a daily action doesn't fit into that grand strategic objective ( how and when to achieve victory ) then you shouldn't do it. It it does further that objective then do it. If you consciously think that way then you will avoid the frittering away of men, materiel and time on strategic fripperies.
< Message edited by Nemo121 -- 10/26/2018 1:25:18 PM >
John Dillworth: "I had GreyJoy check my spelling and he said it was fine."
Well, that's that settled then.