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When playing Axis & Allies as Japan I occasionally have an opponent use the "Kwabang" opening against me, which is where UK attacks Kwangtung on her opening move with the two infantry and fighter in India (landing the fighter in China, typically).

My usual opening move with Japan involves attacking the Pearl Harbor fleet, but when UK opens with a successful Kwabang attack (meaning they capture the territory with at least one infantry) I call that attack off and instead do the following:

  • Send one infantry from Burma into India.
  • Send my two transports with four infantry into Kwangtung, along with the two battleships (and pray that the transport doesn't strike a blow).
  • Throw all of my available infantry (3 in Manchuria, 1 in Burma) plus all air power into attacking China, especially if the UK fighter is based there.
  • Move all remaining naval units to the Japan Sea Zone.

While this strategy usually works well enough to retake Kwangtung and to capture China (and, more importantly, to remove the US and UK fighters in Asia), it has the following undesirable consequences:

  • It leaves the Pearl Harbor fleet unmolested.
  • It leaves Manchuria and Burma unguarded. Granted, these are two territories that are usually easy to take back because they are reachable from Japanese transports in one turn, but if Russia has stacked infantry in east Asia on turn 1 then it can take up to two turns to get Manchuria back.

I'm curious how others deal with this opening and if there are any recommendations on how to refine my response.

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3 Answers

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+50

The problem with the Kwabang attack is it can give the UK a decent foothold in Asia, as well as denying Japan some early IPC, and it really screws with Japan's starting strategies.

Part of me wants to say, "Just ignore Kwangtung, go after Hawaii, and start grinding out transports and armor turn 2 for a mainland attack", but I think the Kwangtung attack swings things enough that you need to deal with it first turn.

While 5 infantry plus 2 battleships against 1 infantry anywhere would normally be overkill, in this case I don't think it is, because: what else are you going to do with them?

To successfully attack the Pearl Harbor fleet, I feel you should throw everything in your fleet and air force at it, and if you're already sending your bombers into China instead of Hawaii, and you probably want at least one battleship in Kwangtung for the bombardment, there's not much left you can send against the Pearl Harbor fleet.

Sooo... finally to your question, where does that leave us? I guess it depends on what the US does. With an intact fleet, I think the US have two options -- harass Japan so they can't start a mainland invasion, or swing through the Panama Canal and support UK's landfall into Germany.

If the US goes after Germany -- good news, it's not your problem, at least not directly. You'll just have to push hard into the mainland to advance into Russia, and find other ways to support Germany (ideally by eliminating the US and UK presence, setting up a mainland factory, and cranking out infantry and armor from the east coast of China).

If the US uses their first turn to move towards you, their fleet can't make it to Japan in one turn, so you'll have a turn to buy units and bulk up. If you're playing with two-hit battleships, consider one; otherwise, consider subs and destroyers to counter their navy. You'll want to go after the US navy pretty fast, because they'll do one of two things: camp out in the Japan sea space, or start island-hopping with the UK to drain you of IPCs quickly.

Oh yeah, as for Manchuria, if you think you can get away with it, leave one unit in Manchuria for the defense.

Wow, that ended up being longer than I intended.

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The only Allied advantage of Kwabang is that it derails the Pearl Harbor attack. The disadvantage is that it hands you India on a silver platter. (No factory there, and maybe not in Sinkiang either).

This falls under the category of "spoiling" attacks. You're going to cry if that transport gets lucky and scores a hit (one chance out of six), but more likely, the Brits have overreached and opened up the game for you. Ultimately, it's a question of whose chances really get spoiled? All Axis players should be so lucky (five times out of six).

Forget Pearl Harbor, which is now Plan B. That WAS the means to the end, not an end of itself. India is the bigger prize by far. Although Germany would have been defeated, Japan might have gotten a negotiated peace if she had used the Pearl Harbor attack fleet to support an amphibious invasion of India, and ultimately of Persia instead (no "day of infamy," hence "live and let live").

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Take India / Fortress Manchuria

My response to this strategy is based on the 2nd edition map and is fairly simple.

  1. Move everything from Burma into India. This move have two purposes: first, it ensures you can hold India from a 2 inf + 1 fighter counter attack from Sinkiang and prevent the UK Indian factory; second, it leaves Burma enticingly open--you want the US or UK to take the bait and move a single inf there. (more on this in a minute).

  2. Use the two transports to drop 4 infantry in either Burma or Manchuria. Manchuria is the preferred location, but your ability to do this depends on how much counter attack capability Russia has nearby. If you can hold Manchuria against the potential triple attack from the US, Russian and the UK--where hold means losing infantry is fine but losing aircraft is not--then land there. You should land with 4 inf and all your airpower that can't participate in Pearl Harbor. If playing with 2-hit battleships (a good rule mod that helps to balance out things for the axis), you can probably even land an additional fighter in Manchuria.

Kwangbang also means I use a transport and infantry strategy as Japan instead of a factory and tank strategy. The reason for this is two fold. First, a factory in Burma or Manchuria could potentially be captured (even though you're bracing against it, why take the risk). Second, you want the flexibility of the transports on turn 2.

On your next turn, your large transport fleet can attack Burma (with Indian support) or Kwangtung with Burma or Manchuria support. Once the ships and fighters get back from Pearl on turn 3 you can use the battle ships and fighters to ensure you own everything on the coast.

The reason you want to entice them to take Burma is for them to divide their limited and irreplaceable defensive forces where you can pick them off and/or take them with overwhelming force.

So the Kwangbang has perhaps cost you a turn of early expansion but the cost was completely forgoing the most effective UK strategy: the Indian factory. It looks good early, but you're in the game for the long-haul (especially if you understand the infantry push mechanic) and this early advantage is not worth the fact that it cedes control of Asia to Japan after the 3rd turn.

Another advantage of using transports vice factories is that when you find yourself with a spare transport it can be used to harvest free infantry from the South Pacific islands and use them to take African territory, New Zealand, and with the support of a soon-to-be useless battleship or two even defended islands like Australia. Don't underestimate the value of 1 or 2 IPC territories integrated over several turns in the mid game.

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