Second Japan game, now that I know a bit more how to play.
I modded the game to make Democracies only able to guarantee other Democracies (like Czechoslovakia, Belgium, Romania, or Denmark), not non-aligned countries (like Albania, Finland, Iraq, or Poland). This doesn't exactly fix guarantee spam, but on the upside it prevents a lot of cheesy guarantee baiting. I also disabled random factor in summary statistics (number of divisions, factories etc.) as that was just annoying for no value, and got anime interface mod.
I have 4 possible directions of attack:
• West vs China - I'll do that as second thing, good but not urgent
• North vs Soviets - awful idea, as it's extremely slow slog from this direction, only makes sense after China
• South vs Allies - awful idea, as I can occupy their islands, but can't make them surrender, and Germany will never invade UK. There's probably some cheese like joining the Axis, attacking Netherlands (but not UK) early, then calling Germany into war hoping they'll finish Netherlands before war escalates, so I'd get the islands and Germany would take European parts in peace deal, but given how bad AI is, that's all a long shot, can result in early WW2, and even if it works, Germany might have too many points in peace conference, leaving me without rubber provinces I want
• East vs USA - that's what we're going to do!
Unfortunately ships all have ahistorically small ranges, and naval interface is dreadful. I need to merge all my fleet, sort them by range, then assign fleets of various ranges to various roles.
I didn't have a real army or real industry, I just made 16 10marine divisions with support art, as that's the best I could realistically equip by end of 1936, kept 3 weird 5inf1ltank and 2 weird 12mot for now, and went for it.
I can't invade USA directly, so it will proceed in stages. Stage one was:
• Main island chain of the Philippines
• Attu Island next to Alaska
• 4/9 minor islands on the way to Hawaii (which itself is just a bit out of range for 90% of my fleet)
Then I kept island hopping - invasion with just one or two divisions are fast, so by end of the year I got everything except Samoa (which is pretty much on the side), and smallest of three Philippines chains.
And one division landed in Alaska, pretty far from Anchorage harbor, and we build a new one.
Of course if only it was as easy now as regrouping and invading California - my fleet still doesn't have enough range from Hawaii. I can either split tiny part of my fleet which does, or try to take Anchorage and push from there.
If diplomacy in the game worked, I might consider asking fascist El Salvador or neutral Mexico for military access, but let's not expect too much.
That's the naval plan. Taiwan to Philippines arrow might be a bit too small too see.
Subs are up North. Destroyers (with 1500km range) in Philippines, main war fleet in Central Pacific.
First fight against Americans. I could have skipped Line Islands and other minor islands, but it's not a speedrun.
Fleet doomstack is pretty effective - half of US fleet is presumably in the Atlantic.
Landing protected by subs, we're building new harbor there. Anchorage was out of range. It's a 1vp town actually (Unalaska, which apparently had like 200 people back then), so it provides enough supplies for one division even without a port.
Hawaii invasion, ending phase one.
For the Emperor! (who's anime girl in this mod)
With fall of Hawaii it was time for stage two:
• securing the rest of Alaska, to get West Coast in naval range
• finishing off remaining islands
• hunting down US Pacific navy
After minor islands were done, it was clear that Hawaii invasion route is just too long and risky, so I decided to invade from Anchorage and Unalaska only.
I killed about a third of their fleet losing only 2 destroyers (but with a lot of ships damaged), then I withdrew them from Central Pacific just after armies went home, to protect the big invasion.
Then swiftly, stage three: actual invasion.
Initial forces landed in naval base next to Portland unopposed, and from there on it mostly faced American divisions confused by what they're supposed to be doing. I think they're used to beating black people or raiding speakeasies, or whatever American army used to do back then, not to war.
There was no frontline, as Americans didn't have enough divisions to have a proper frontline, so I could pocket anyone I wanted. By the end of the war they had like 12 divisions remaining of original 43.
There are rumors of problems on the Chinese border. I have about 43 real divisions, and 50 cardboard ones I might end up disbanding eventually.
That's how far it got before US capitulated.
Plan for initial landing. I was prepared for heavy fighting on sea or land, but it was completely unopposed.
Where's US army gone?
That's the closest to a frontline US ever got. After I expanded to California they mostly gave up. Also a bit of anime girls interface.
Motorized infantry pretending to be light tanks - it actually worked quite well on high supply low enemy presence areas of US, probably wouldn't be that great anywhere else.
Motorized infantry doing whatever it wants, pocketing, taking victory points, US had no idea what to do.
With so few troops per tile, pocketing is trivial.
Pax Americana. And two red arrows showing where my two motorized infantry divisions planned to go.
Weirdly China decided to react to Marco Polo Bridge incident by giving me 3 states with nearly 70m pop. That's silly, as it doesn't delay the war by even one day, unlike pretty much every other ultimatum event.
Division of responsibility was simple:
• cardboard army (40x 6inf, 10x 6cav) held North China border
• two invasions of 5x 5mar2art each, Hainan island and Hangzhou
• 32x more divisions of marines, 2x 12mot, and 3x 5inf1ltank to reinforce invasions
My cardboard army was not holding too well, but that was acceptable.
Anyway, the war went really wrong almost immediately, as China (probably by cheating) joined Comintern, instead of forming its own faction by event. I assumed that at least I wouldn't find Chinese minors, but nope, they got their own faction by event anyway, so I'm at war with two factions simultaneously.
Then Germany invited me to the Axis, and WW2 begun.
Unfortunately Germany probably wouldn't open any real second front, so I decided to boost fascist party popularity in Poland and Turkey, and in the meantime abandon Manchuria.
It turned out that neither Germans nor Soviets seemed terribly interested in this war - Germans for that matter didn't even recall their military advisors to China, even though they were already at war.
PRC capitulated very quickly. Then Soviets were basically idle, so I just pretended that war didn't exist and focused on China. As soon as China capitulated I was able to annex PRC and China outright - it's a rare mechanic where there are majors of multiple factions in one side of a war, faction capitulates when all its majors do, the rest of the war continues.
To show how phoney this war has been, Germany and Italy lost 1k men each, Mongolia lost 15, and Soviets just 13 (men, not thousands).
As for next step, it's not like I have that many choices. Soviets have -30% purge penalty and 65% national unity, but from Asian side, it's long walk to Moscow either way.
Initial plan for a war before China gave me 3 states. Noobs army (all-green 6inf) I just moved away so they don't eat supplies, I didn't expect Soviets to get involved. I got noobs back to hold the now much longer line before the war.
My 6inf can't hold the line even with entrenchment bonus, 6cav army meanwhile is doing pretty damn well - cavalry overall overperformed.
Holding the line is hard. I had to reinforce them with real army.
Central China invasion and North China Cavalry armies did very well. South China invasion got stuck, even though it got through straits just fine. North China had to be reinforced to hold the line. Soviets ignored the war all that time.
Central China invasion ended up split as I moved too many troops for pocketing duty. North-Central merged with North, South-Central was stuck there until nearly end of the war. PRC on verge of capitulation, horses galloping towards its last victory point.
Germany was at war with China, but who cares, they'll keep advising them.
Frontlines closer and closer. That battle in the West is 2x 6cav bravely defending a 3vp city from like 14 or so enemy divisions. China lacks infantry equipment so its divisions fight extremely poorly, especially a bit into the war, and that vp was mountains. That red 21 on the coast is German volunteers trying naval invasion, or something silly like that.
Great Japanese Empire
After victory in China I redid OOB, and that meant converting all the silly 6inf divisions into 7mar2art and sending them back for retraining.
I'm not sure what to do with 6cav, 12mot, and 5inf1larm divisions yet. Fast units with support artillery are actually decent substitute for light tanks, and I don't want to manufacture light tanks terribly much.
New OOB is:
• 24 regulars in Manchuria - task is to cut Vladivostok and retake Sakhalin
• 24 regulars in Mongolia - task is to take Mongolia and Tannu Tuva
• 10 cav, 2 mot, 3 5inf1larm, the rest of regulars in Central Asia - task is to push preparing for great Siberian pocket
• a lot of green units in the back - waiting for equipment shortage to go away, then doing retraining
Soviets didn't fight back too well, so things went more or less as planned. Both Comintern minors capitulated, Germany got Austria and Sudetenland but ignored the war it's technically is, I pushed through to Aral Sea, encircling a lot of divisions on the way.
By the way having exact enemy division count instead of bullshit range makes it much more satisfying. If war summary screen at least had a total count of divisions destroyed (which is known information), that would be good too.
Next step is reaching Caspian Sea and starting the Siberia/Caucasus double cut, depending on level of enemy resistance.
Motorized divisions are overperforming.
Pretty good two starting months.
I sort of wish Soviets were just spamming green under-equipped division to make things more challenging - instead they roll over and die, not even replacing pocketed divisions.
Plan to pocket a lot of troops in Caucasus failed miserably, as it was completely undefended.
Plan to pocket a lot of troops in Siberia was abandoned, as by the time I crossed Perm the entire Soviet Union had only 94 divisions left, and in any case the Northward push has been fairly even on whole Siberian front, so I'd push them into the sea eventually, pocket or no pocket.
Instead I took troops who were going to push for Siberia pocket and made them go to Moscow.
As Germany didn't contribute anything to the war, I took everything in the peace deal. Then I quit the Axis, because I don't need such worthless alliance.
The question now is to fight:
• Miedzymorze (not in faction yet, but likely soon)
• random non-aligned neutrals - I made it impossible for Allies to guarantee them, but they can still cheat their way into any faction they want
Alternatively I could try to build my own faction. I've been supporting fascism in Poland and Turkey. Maybe I should invite Poland to my faction, assuming I make it in time?
Push West has been much more successful than North, so I ended up not pocketing Siberia.
Technicals ride to Moscow.
They even managed to cut my technicals, but not like that matters, Moscow provides a lot of supplies. That's a moments before surrender picture, I just needed two more cities after Moscow.
Great Japanese Empire
I quit the Axis and founded my own faction. Of course nobody would join except my puppet, as joining logic is based on focus buttons. Poland joined the Allies, which is not exactly useful for them - they really ought to join either me or Axis, otherwise they're roadkill.
I got tired of cavalry, so every division is now either 10mot or 7mar2art, all other templates eliminated - once I get medium tanks next year motorized divisions will get some tanks and infantry divisions will get some sparts
I started fabricating on neutrals - starting with Iran and Afghanistan, then see which faction they cheat their way into, then fight those bastards. I assume Allies, but one never knows for sure. If Axis, this will make my job so much easier.
OOB for my wars:
• 24 divisions next to Iran, for war
• 12 divisions next to Afghanistan, for war
And in preparation war them cheating their way into Allies:
• 26 divisions next to Canada
• 31 divisions next to Raj
• 16 divisions next to French Vietnam
• 43 divisions and 12 motorized divisions next to Poland, Latvia, and Estonia
• fleet next to China, as I don't have any better ports in range, they'll be useful for invading Australia later
And now that I have the CBs I can either attack and see whom they'll join (I'd be surprised if nobody) - or I could wait for Germany to finish Danzig or War.
Factions before the war
Plan Canada. Fortunately I don't have to take he frozen wasteland, all victory points are right next to its border.
Plan Poland. Baltics won't get involved directly, but once I'm at war I can quickly fabricate some extra CBs.
The main war in South Asia. I still hope to get Gulenist coup in Turkey so they'll join me.
I could have attacked Iran and Afghanistan, presumably ending in world war, or wait for Germany to attack the Allies, as it was doing Danzig or War. I decided to go for it right away.
In any case, Poland gave up Danzig, but Germany fabricated on France right away, then Italy attacked Yugoslavia, and it all escalated into a world war.
I attacked, they did not join any faction, but I still needed to wait for my "improved national spirit" focus to finish - that's +1 mana/day. My marines fought a lot worse than mountaineers would. It's not totally obvious if mountaineers or marines are better overall, I feel mountaineers.
Well, next batch - Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
And after that Estonia, Latvia, and Finland. I actually wanted Lithuania, but for some reason it would cost extra mana.
Fourth batch - Latvia, Romania, and Bulgaria. I was briefly confused as I remembered that Romania was Democratic, but the graph showed 60% non-aligned. Obviously they got guaranteed right away (I'm playing with Democracies modded to only be allowed to guarantee other Democracies), so war with the Allies it will be!
By the way if fascists or communists have majority, the country flips next elections, but apparently that's not the case with non-aligned.
I started slowly upgrading my 10mot towards 5mot5mtank, and my 7mar2art towards 7mar2mspart.
I also accidentally recruited 43 more divisions (I wanted just a couple, but apparently I clicked deploy all), so I sent them to Mexican border.
And I managed to flip Turkey fascist, but they not only won't join my faction, they won't even allow me military access. Could we get a patch which adds real diplomacy to the game?
And now that my fabrication on Romania and Bulgaria is complete (Lithuania will take extra, I think that's thanks to "political correctness" focus button, which AI rarely presses), the war with Allies is imminent.
Then again, Allies are basically Commonwealth, French/Dutch/Belgian colonies, and Norway. Poland, Luxembourg, France, Netherland all capitulated, while Denmark, Yugoslavia, and Belgium are almost done.
I sort of want to make this the world conquest game (not counting my puppet), but the game started having some performance problems, so maybe that won't happen.
I'll be fighting the Allies, but there aren't that many of them left.
I had to make sure I don't accidentally take Tehran, or it would wreck my +1mana/day focus. I'm not a huge fan of cancelling when prerequisites no longer met mechanic, and it's fairly random which buttons cancel and which continue. At least the tooltip explicitly says so.
France vs France. That's honestly the first time I see Germany take this choice. Both Frances seem to get about half the navy and air force, but both are tiny.
It was pretty weird - I attacked Romania, who called its guarantor Netherlands (already capitulated), but Romania didn't join the Allies, and Netherlands never called anybody else, so I got Romania in peace conference.
Unfortunately I stayed at war with (capitulated) Netherlands, who decided to then call the Allies. Oh well, it's not like this is in any way unexpected.
I got all victory point in Canada, and it turned out I have to conquer the frozen wasteland anyway. 90% national unity and victory points for wasteland are both ideas which could work, but they don't belong in the same game.
Anyway, I started expanding the war to include various new countries, like Greece, Mexico, Siam, and so on - I'll just keep my armies busy.
Unfortunately while I could finish this war by moving my fleet and invading UK, that would actually be a bad idea, as Axis has a lot more points in their war against Allies than I do.
What I need to do is finish all the minor fights, then turn around and crush the Axis. Only after that, get the UK.
It would be quite difficult to fight both at the same time from day one, but wrecking the Allies (except UK), turning around, and then wrecking the Axis should be doable. I'm also much closer to my army being 5mot5mtank and 7mar2mspart, which are both a bit supply-hungry, but will be perfect for fighting in Europe.
Oh wow, nukes are even worse than I thought - I thought 10% NU floor is total minimum, but it's base minimum, so you can't reduce Soviets under 45% (10% base + 35% from modifiers).
I flipped Turkey fascist, and it actually wanted to join my faction because it was hostile to Norway and Denmark. What? Fine, I'll let you join.
I kept pushing everywhere, and I invited Venezuela and Dominica as well. Somehow I even got Spain - their only job was of course taking Gibraltar, but Allies put nearly 30 divisions there. I used tactical bombers, fighters, shore bombardment, and together it was actually surprisingly effective at making it fall, even thought Spain attacked with 1 or 2 divisions at a time vs 30.
I had way too much trouble with Nepal and Tibet - turns out I misclicked and attacked them with army which was exercising. Well, imagine if I did that while fighting the Axis.
Sweden guaranteed Haiti, so the war got a bit bigger than I thought it would be, with another "major power", but it really didn't matter much.
Right now a few operations are going on:
• Since fall of Gibraltar, I can finally move my fleet out and use my forces in Norway to invade UK and finish war with the Allies
• My Indonesian island hopping forces are near Australia
• I'm finishing off some countries in South America, but I'll leave the rest of it for Axis war
• My Suez forces are advancing South to grab some land, as UK decided to evacuate the frontlines
I'm not sure if it's better to finish Allies first (and divide spoils with the Axis), or go for a 3-way war. Right now global mess is so huge I feel finishing off the Allies will probably be easier.
Island hopping to establish rubber monopoly
Spain wants to join my faction because Luxembourg is a meanie
With my air and naval support, they actually succeeded
Before invasion of UK and Australia
Island hopping a while later
I think I'll just stop with Peru for now.
I made simultaneous invasions of Australia, UK, and New Zealand, and in the end we divided the world between us and the Axis.
Axis got France (whole with all their colonial possessions and even with Alsace) and UK (in Hong Kong) as puppets, and annexed Poland, Lithuania, Yugoslavia, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Bulgaria, and Greece.
Italy got to puppet a small Denmark, and annexed a good chunk of Africa.
South Africa remained independent.
I got pretty much everything else - Lithuania, Bulgaria, and French Vietnam being the most notable countries which I had to give back.
Well, since UK is part of the Axis now, in 70 days I'll be able to get CB on UK, instead of the usual 125. 70 days should be enough to redo OOB.
Royal Navy can't deal with light cruiser spam, I sunk a lot just on my way to Norway
Invasion of Australia
Invasion of the UK
Invasion of New Zealand
With 12 regulars and 12 tanks, even AI could take over the UK.
Result of the peace conference
Apparently focus buttons are still broken, as I got CB on Germany's puppet UK, but I could declare on neither UK nor Germany. That took extra 125 days, but at least I had time to give support rocket artillery (as 7th support) to everyone, and train most divisions to +25% regular level.
That makes my divisions obscenely good, even though I faced something like 700 Axis divisions in Europe with 180.
The strategy was fairly simple:
• in South America, get everyone - Cuba was most difficult as AI split invasion 9:1 instead of 5:5. I wish they just fixed that bug. Weirdly a lot of minors did not bother joining the Axis
• in East Asia take Hong Kong (UK capitulated) and French Vietnam
• in Middle East take French Syria and expand Egypt a bit, but I don't plan any major African war
• in Denmark I wanted to naval invade Kiel, but since Germans had Jutland and my fleet was on wrong side of Danish straits, I couldn't. Instead I just pushed when Germans left for a while, and then had my 24 divisions sit entrenched and count bodies. Germany really prioritized that front, maybe because it's so close to Berlin? Or maybe at random
• in Balkans, tried to pocket, but it's hard, briefly it seemed there'd be like 150-division pocket, but they got most of them out, just by pinning my pocketing tanks. So instead I took Hungary out of the war and made a bunch of smaller pockets
• in Poland, Germans attacked hard, while AI battle planner left half of tiles with just one divisions and some randomly with 12, so I had to give up one whole tile, temporarily. Then I made one pocket after another by simply narrow infantry push.
So far there are over 2 million dead bodies to my 35k. I actually have a lot more losses in those minor South American wars as I let AI manage them, than I have fighting the Axis.
Poland is "Infantry push. Close pocket. Repeat.". By the way AI managing this front naval moved from port in main Lithuania to port in Memel, literally next tile. Like wtf?
This bullshit with captured interwar fighters and bombers being treated as separate categories per country makes air UI miserable.
Denmark is Donemark
I was trying to pocket those 59+34+41 divisions next to Constantinople, but Germans pinned me long enough to escape with about half of them.
Hungary nearly eliminated at this point.
14 is better than 0. Also another pocket in making in Transylvania.
So a total of 45 pocketed out of 134. It was a good pocket, but it could have been so much more.
I guess now that I unblocked the straits I could naval invade and make enormous pocket, but AI will probably get magic warning and move troops around. 24 vs 128 divisions is not the best opportunity for being cute. Meanwhile Eastern front is two tiles from Danzig, so at this pace I'll pocket them via Berlin by late summer.
I tried some cute pocketing. First cutting Balkans (not perfect as there were still ports in Greece), then Poland, then I just told AI to have a go at it, while I sent the tanks to meet in Berlin.
War in Europe was extremely one-sided after that. The last remaining Axis power turned out to be Argentina - as with so many countries eliminated it doesn't take much to be considered a "major". I wonder if Hitler secretly lives there now.
Pocketing Berlin, and from this point on nobody even pretended to be able to resist.
WTF? UK is a capitulated one-noncore-state (Hong Kong) puppet of capitulated Germany. Scandinavia is all long gone. The whole thing is really ridiculous.
Axis is Argentina and Chile. Brasil and Uruguay fight on their own.
Somehow after Argentina capitulated Ireland became major Axis power, but that was it - Chile fortunately did not become major.
Portugal fought long, as somehow they are the only country whose all colonial holdings are treated as core states - I assume that's just a bug.
The last resistance was Allies - South Africa, Brazil, and Liberia.
It didn't actually take that much longer to go for world conquest compared with simply eliminating all competing factions - Commonwealth is so dispersed that you need to send armies to every part of the world to get rid of the Allies anyway, and I let AI do most of the work in last part of the game. If I was playing Luxembourg I'd need to micro more even very late.
The only remaining countries are my 6 faction members - I couldn't onetag because of puppet I start with, so I just let various countries in. Venezuela and Dominica were completely worthless. Turkey mostly so, but I made Turkey fascist myself (or Gulen did), so why not. It couldn't even clear those Italian islands next to its land until I sent my marines. Spain was a somewhat useful faction member at least, it took Gibraltar, and then fought Axis from an extra front.
In the end I had to build some infrastructure. Logistics companies are good, but going from art to spart and from mot to mtanks massively increases supply use, so it was about even.
There wasn't anything unusual about my tech or build - 7 supports (art, rocket art, eng, recon, hospital, maintenance, logistics) with that mod was a bit different, but cutting recon and rocket art would make this work just fine. Or cutting hospital when playing as major power like Japan.
Last bits of resistance
I checked save from my Japan campaign to see why Soviets were doing so poorly:
• They were still at 2.5% recruitment law, and used their mana to press focus buttons, not to fix their laws. They still had 600k men with it.
• They were only recruiting 6 division - and didn't deploy them green, because they didn't have enough infantry equipment anyway.
• They weren't producing anything close to enough infantry equipment, and they were wasting their production on light tanks, fighters etc.
• They pressed focus button to move industry to Ural, costing them about half their military production.
There's no easy fix for that, as units only fight with their equipment (dudes without guns just eat supply and do nothing else), so for majors the limiting factor is industry, not manpower. Industry ramps up with time, but if you go to early war, you can wreck any major without trouble.
I guess they could nerf industry tech and just make base production higher, so early on everyone can get at least basic infantry. Rushing industry tech is how players get enormous advantage over AI, same with superior firepower.
Total industry bonuses from machine tools and concentrated industry are:
• base - 100% production; 100% slots
• 1936 - 132% produciton; 120% slots
• 1937 - 182% production; 140% slots
• 1939 - 256% production; 160% slots
• 1941 - 360% production; 180% slots
• 1943 - 400% production; 200% slots; 25% production efficiency growth
It's especially crazy how far ahead you can get in 1937 by taking a few techs, building a few military factories, and not wasting production on nonsense.