In the "real" war, the Allies concentrated on, and defeated Germany before Japan. That might not have been the case if Hitler had not declared war on the United States in 1941, and the U.S. had concentrated on fighting Japan.

The "Japan first" strategy might be better for the revised edition, with four Pacific "victory cities," but mine is the earliest edition.

Reasons for concentrating on Japan might be the following:

  1. Japan is weaker than Germany, hence easier to beat.
  2. In "real life," Japan occupied (or threatened to occupy), the more populous part of the world in Asia. The revised edition clearly reflects that.
  3. If the "Japan" player is better than the "Germany" player, it might be wise to give priority to containing "Japan."

My plan for a "Japan first" strategy would be to have the U.S. fleet engage the Japanese fleet in the Pacific, to keep Japanese air power way from "Asia."

Then BOTH Britain and the U.S. build "factories" in India and Sinkiang, respectively. (The idea would be that Japan then could't capture both.) Russia would move forces east to protect India, and Sinkiang and ultimately to capture Manchuria. Each turn, the Americans would spend 10 of their IPCs manufacturing armored units in Sinkiang, while using their remaining 26 IPCs to neutralize Japan's 25 IPCs in the Pacific.

The armor manufactured in Sinkiang (and Britain's India) would recapture Kwantung and Indochina. Together, the Allies would capture nine IPCs and kick Japan off the mainland. The downside is that the Germans would probably capture most of Africa (10 IPCs) in the meantime. But both sides would have "consolidated," the Germans in Europe-Africa, and the Allies in Asia.

Does the above, or any other plan, represent a viable "Japan first" strategy?

  • I can't say whether this will actually work, but it looks like there are two key weaknesses you'll have to work through: denying reinforcements to Russia's western front might cause Russia to fall (or fall faster than it otherwise would), and building two factories in Asia is a fairly steep price - those IPCs might be better spent elsewhere. Ceding Africa to Germany would also give them almost as many income IPCs as you're gaining from Japan. You'll bottle up Japan early, but giving Germany (relatively) free rein will probably cost you Russia. Try it and see what happens? Commented May 15, 2013 at 19:11
  • @PaulMarshall:One of the preconditions for this strategy was that "Japan" is a better player than "Germany." Meaning that as an Ally, I'm less concerned about what Germany can do in Africa than about what Japan could do against Russia if not "ganged up" on in this way. Switch the relative strengths and I would NOT use this strategy.
    – Tom Au
    Commented May 15, 2013 at 21:34
  • The "Japan first" strategy also requires significant investment in the US Pacific naval fleet. Pushing Japan off mainland Asia does no good if they have sufficient transports and reinforcements to retake key territories. That being said, I've found the "Japan first" strategy to only be effective when playing with the "no new factories" rule variant, as this requires Japan to maintain a large transport fleet and a strong UK/US presence on the mainland coupled with a strong US Pacific fleet makes it difficult for Japan to maintain such a fleet. Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 5:45

3 Answers 3


This response for Japan First is based on the 1986 Second Edition version and assumes No Russia Attack first round house rule.

  • The allies should under no circumstance look to divert SIGNIFICANT RESOURCES (i.e. more than U.K.'s dollars to an India IC/tanks thereafter).
  • If you send more dollars (U.S. IC, Russia support, etc), you are weakening the Shuck-Shuck which ultimately means a delay to round 4 assuming a smart Axis German player will suicide his fighters on a weakened initial shuck-shuck attempt. ORRR you are needlessly increasing Germany's short initial window to attack Russia by not placing all Russia defense troops possible of reaching Karelia as defense.
  • Allies should concentrate their initial 90 IPCs as much as possible towards Germany's 32 IPC's, this tilts the ground war in their favor the quickest as Germany starts out with an IPC advantage day 1 which must be overcome via Infantry-push tactics.
  • Not a bad answer, but one of the premises of the question was that the Japan player was better than the German player. If the German player is good enough to "suicide" his fighters vs. shuck-shuck, you have a very good Japanese player.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Oct 27, 2014 at 21:47

It can be done, but it requires such a level of cooperation among the allies that I wouldn't recommend it unless you are playing all 3 allies. Any Indian factory is a gift to Japan. 'Nuff said. The UK needs to build up it's Atlantic fleet strength (a prerequisite for the over-all strategy to work). US must split their forces and fight a two-front war (never a pleasant prospect). Russia must grit her teeth and eat such infantry casualties as it takes to hold the Germans (also not a pleasant prospect, especially from a game enjoyment level; who likes defend, defend, defend?) UK and US should invest just enough in warships to draw out and destroy the Luftwaffe, on the way to building an infantry push across north Africa and into asia across the Suez (thanks Don!). In the meantime US must build it's poor scattered remnants into something resembling a battle fleet. This is the most delicate and precise part of this strategy. US must spend just enough to support UK in the atlantic, while retaining enough resources to build a war machine cabable of defeating The Imperial High Seas Fleets. By sacrifing 3 IPCs in India, UK will be able to retain 10 IPCs in Africa. The UK transport fleet keeps the Axis jumping because they can hit anywhere on the coast of Europe or Africa. Between them UK and Russia start with 54 IPCs to Germany's 32. If Us spends as much as Japan in the pacifc (25 IPCs per turn) this leaves US several IPCs per turn to devote to the battle of the atlantic. UK and Russia will have to contain Germany long enough to balance Japan's initially overwhelming military power. It makes for a long and bloody war.


I think the Japan first strategy is the only viable method for taking out the Axis. The US doesn't even need to fully dedicate themselves to the Japan-first mission.

Common first turn movements:


  • Russia builds up defense to try to hold off on the German onslaught
  • Send two tanks down to India for some backup


  • England's fighters/bomber fly from England into Russia so that the next time around the board they can fly into India (sink a few German boats on the way).
  • England sends their transport down to pick up two infantry men on Australia.
  • England buys 1 Industrial Complex and saves their remaining 15 IPCs for their second round (so they could buy and place whatever they'd like)


  • Don't build IC in Asia
  • Not super necessary to weaken naval fleet.
  • Move guys into Africa to fight Germany there

Turn 2


  • Defense


  • buy planes/armor with the extra 15 IPCs
  • Keeping a strong defense, start attacking Japan
  • Move two infantry men up from Australasia, use them as either offense or defense
  • On the first turn, it's usually a good idea to have Russia invade Finland from Karelia: it's relatively cheap to take, it costs Germany a fighter, it's difficult for Germany to retake, and the Axis war machine isn't fully assembled at Russia's doorstep yet. Also, have you tried this strategy? How well does it work? (Also also, welcome to Board & Card Games!) Commented Jun 19, 2014 at 23:05
  • I've tried invading Finland. I personally don't think it's worth it. At the beginning of the game, Germany has enough money and will just buy more fighters. The strategy I described above is essentially my default Allied strategy. Depending on the skill of other players, I'll differ it (good players, do what I know is the most tried and true; new/lousy players, I'll be more liberal).
    – tkelch
    Commented Jun 20, 2014 at 12:05

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