Topic: Empire of the Sun
A question that I get asked more than most is how to successfully start a game ('42 campaign) with a weak Japanese hand. I have written about this here before (easiest to sort on strategy posts), but the variant on this question is how to do this while also suffering from ISR. So, here is a short set of guidelines that I use that will hopefully get a new player over the worst of this issue if you do not have the time to work it out over the board.
These guidelines assume that you are trying to capture the DEI on the opening turn. As seen from our extensive collection of CSW games over the last 5 years there are other ways to open the game, but for purposes of answering this question I will focus on a core set of moves to capture the DEI and see what remains in the JP opening fuel tank for other conquests.
An important point to note is the Japanese is always assured on offensive event in their opening hand and the first Japanese card play is always under Central Agreement sans ISR. We have been playing a continuous series of 'staff' games over on CSW for the last 5+ years and what follows has been successfully accomplished in team and individual play, so this is not theory but battle tested tactics.
The key to the weak Japanese opening hand and being under ISR after the opening JP attack is the South Seas Brigade with the CA Aoba out of Rabaul. First a quick review, when ISR is imposed on the JP in the opening they have their ASPs (Amphibious Shipping Points) reduced in half to 4 from the original 7. The South Seas Brigade (hereafter SS Bde) using the CA Aoba as organic transport does not require any ASPs. The SS Bde is capable of defeating any Dutch Regiment garrisoning a resource hex, so aggressive use of the SS Bde is the main element in an opening that is hobbled by a halving of your ASPs.
My preferred opening card always focuses on gaining air superiority over Manila and Singapore and if I only have one offensive event I usually use it on my opening play. I try if possible to use a CA in my opening attack so it can PBM to Miri and link up with the SNLF Bde at that location.
Once that is accomplished I then use the six strength SS brigade with CA Aoba organic transport to capture several of the Dutch resource hexes to conserve ASPs. The basic idea is you use a 3OC card to send the SS Bde to Tarakan with air support giving a 90% of success and then use it later on to take Balikpapan. I use the SNLF Bde out of Miri to take Soerbaja. I use an ASP to capture Batavia (adjacent to the strongly held Tjilatjap) then ship into the captured port larger Army units for an overland attack on Tjilatjap. Landing a division in Bangka, Sumatra (1 ASP) allows a later overland attack to capture Palembang. This leaves the capture of Medan, Sumatra to a 2OC move from Balikpapan with the SS Bde.
So summarizing, the SS Bde captures Tarkan (3OC), Balikpapan (1OC), Medan (2OC) leaving the capture of Soerbaja for the Miri SNLF on a 2OC. Capturing these four hexes in this manner costs zero ASPs. The capture of Batavia, and Banka requires 2 ASP. This would leave the JP with 2 ASP (under ISR) for other adventures. The difficulty with a weak hand under ISR for me is not ASPs, but battle hex limitations.
Now no plan survives the first shot, so view this as a template, not a formula, but hopefully this gives you a more tactical explanation on how to take the DEI and still have logistic energy to take a couple of other locations. Also, remember that spending a few activations in Burma in the opening turn can have long range benefits and does not require any ASPs. It is how you use the remainder of your remaining resources not used in the first turn capture of the DEI that shapes your strategy going forward.
Lastly, this is not the only way to successfully open the game as the Japanese, just a demonstration on some key themes to consider when laboring under the twin obstacles of a weak hand and early ISR.
Happy Holidays all,