So, my previous efforts to revoke the Meiji Restoration through militarism floundered in late 1943, when the Russians joined the party. Damned Soviets. By this time I had captured Nationalist China (and all other forms of China, actually) and all of the Dutch East Indies, and had triggered the Pearl Harbour Event, bringing me into war with the USA and Britain. Things were going quite well, with decisive naval victories happening regularly, all of Indonesia (and its resources!) in my possession and Singapore and Burma next to go. Unfortunately, my belligerence score was up in the stratosphere, no one would trade with me and all my neighbours were a little wary, to say the least. The effort of production to maintain reinforcements and a good supply of soldiers for China had chewed up a lot of industrial capacity for 2 or 3 years, so my navy and airforce were a tad underdeveloped and I didn’t have enough money to throw away on buying off the Russians. Invading Nationalist China hadn’t provided the benefits I thought – once you annex a country you only get 40% or less of its industrial capacity (IC) and resources, and China was basically a barren wasteland so I had only gained about 20% industrial capacity (at most), though my resource stockpiles were much bigger than I needed due to seizing China’s. However, to maintain the occupation of these suppliers, I had to expend large amounts of industrial capacity on garrisons to place around the country (to suppress partisan activity). The partisan activity was significantly hampering my supply efficiency, and I had to maintain at least 3 sizable military forces to deal with partisan flare-ups (which garrisons can’t handle). I had also opened up a huge front with both Russia (all the way from Xinjiang to the Sea of Japan) and the UK (Burma). Spending all that productive capacity on the war effort meant I also had no money to arrange alliances, so I had no land border with British-occupied Burma or Singapore, and no trading partners willing to do profitable deals with me.

And then the Russians attacked, through the area around Vladivostok and Xinjiang simultaneously, while the British invaded through Burma. I found myself fighting a war on three fronts, all badly supplied across the mass of partisan-infested China, while attempting to beat down the USA and Britain in the area around the Phillipines so I could get access to its oil and supplies. This was all too much for my feeble powers, so I threw in the towel.

So now I’m trying a different approach, more culturally appropriate, of building Japan’s industry and resources through trade, completely ignoring China as a military target, and focussing on simultaneous strikes against resource-rich states (i.e. the Dutch East Indies and Singapore) simultaneously while fighting the USA. I have also decided to avoid the Pearl Harbour trigger, because it’s not a good idea to pull it. As I write this, it’s March 1943, 1.5 years after the original start of hostilities against America, and I’m about to turn nasty using my new trade-focussed buildup strategy.

The Devious Asian Gangster Approach

This new approach basically involved spending the 5 years to 1941 (the original deadline for war with America) building up my industrial capacity and resources. Increasing your IC by 1 point costs 5 points of IC and takes 1 year; but you can do serial runs, which take about 4.5 years to produce 5 points of IC, so if you use all your IC in 1936 to do this, you can set up about 5 chains of 5 points of IC. Each year you then get 5 points added on to your IC (as the first factories are complete); you can use these 5 points to set up another 4 point chain; then in the second year you get 9 points, so you set up another 2 3 point chains; and so on. Following this cascading effect, we get the following results:

  • The original state of Japan in 1941 when it attacked America, as estimated by the scenario in the original Hearts of Iron 2 install: 126 points of base IC
  • Me in 1943, after a long and vicious campaign against Nationalist China that turned the Yellow River red with precious Japanese blood: 135 points of base IC
  • Me in 1943, after a 5 year build up period and the capture of Peking (my only military adventure): 151 points of base IC

However, under the third strategy, I got the extra 15 base points of IC by 1941, and spent them on a carrier fleet and massive Destroyer expansion program, so that now my fleet is very high quality, and capable of defending the home islands while projecting power in 4 different regions, and possibly also guarding my colonial possessions. It’s also due to get even bigger in 1-2 years, so that any small setbacks will be repaired by 1945. Japan lost the Battle of Midway with 4 carriers and 2 battleships, most of both types of ship being from the interwar period. I intend to fight the battle of midway with at least 3 modern carriers, possibly as many as 8, and a fleet composed entirely of 1941-vintage ships. Because the USA is not expecting war, under the original game settings it doesn’t start building its fleet up until after the Pearl Harbour event; but still, even before this in 1943 under my current plan we estimate they have 15 carriers and 15 battleships, but I expect most of these are older models.

A comparison of my current navy with the Imperial Japanese Navy when it attacked Pearl Harbour is shown in Table 1. The proportions presented in brackets are the percentage of the total fleet that are “advanced” models, that is built after 1940.

Table 1: The Forces of Good under Two Development Models

Ship Type Devious Asian Gangster Land War in Asia
Carriers 16 (60%) 12 (50%)
Battleships 10 (40%) 10 (0%)
Battlecruisers 4 (0%) 0
Heavy Cruisers 14 (0%) 18 (11%)
Light Cruisers 21 (25%) 20 (25%)
Destroyers 188 (>40%) 108 (approx. 10%)
Submarines 90 (approx. 20%) 68 (approx. 0%)

As can be seen clearly from Table 1, my plan is to focus on destroyers and carriers in the first round of conflict. Japanese Carrier technology and fighting techniques were universally accepted as superior to those of the allies, and their Destroyer technology also supposedly superior, so a focus on these two ship types at first seemed sensible. In addition to what is listed there, I have a major naval expansion program in train:

  • 6 new carriers (more advanced than the current 16)
  • 2 new battleships
  • 4 heavy cruisers (1941 model)

Additionally, my 10 most advanced current carriers are 1943 variants (not 1941) and I have researched light carriers to the 1941 level; I aim to start building a long train of these shortly. By 1945 I should have a fleet of the most advanced carriers in the world that rivals the entire US carrier fleet in size, and the most powerful destroyer fleet the world has ever seen. I’ve avoided going down the path of the super heavy battleship (the Yamatos and similar) because although they look like death on waves, and are clearly very cool, they take ages to build and are a technological dead end (in-game); there is no option for a nuclear-powered Yamato (though maybe in Hearts of Iron 3 they will have the possibility of a space-faring variant). My general goal is to have nuclear submarine and carrier technology by 1945, so I can extend my range.

The Basic Strategy

In the 5 year buildup period I’ve also established rocket technology and nuclear power; I have access to strategic rockets (V2s) which I aim to build a nest of for installation on Taiwan; if the Nationalist Chinese take issue with my newfound belligerence I’m going to waste Guangzhou. The next stage from these rockets is the ballistic missile, which I aim to stick nuclear weapons onto. I need to start developing strategic bombers for this purpose soon. I think nuclear weapons are essential in this game because of a big bug in the computer – it just refuses to surrender, even on quite good terms, but apparently the use of nukes adds considerably to your favour in the balance sheet. I suspect I won’t be able to make a puppet of the USA without nuking it, and I don’t want to fight a land war across all the USA in order to annex it. I don’t have forever. Ditto Nationalist China.

I think the key to victory is to not trigger the Pearl Harbour Event. This event gives initial advantages to the Japanese navy, but also leads to a massive reorientation of the US war effort (including an increase in IC, I think) towards its navy – within about a year they are swamping Japan with carriers. Pearl Harbour was probably a huge strategic error in real life, and probably also in the game. But if the computer goes on its own merry way, it will produce a much smaller, more realistic fleet, and I will have a chance of defeating the USA.

So, this is the plan for the immediate future of the world. If I avoid triggering the Pearl Harbour Event, I can hopefully annihilate the entire US and UK navies within 6 months, and have a good year and a half in which to stomp my way over the Pacific before the US recovers. The plan then is to occupy their Pacific population centres, cutting off their industrial capacity and preventing them from fielding their fleet against me, and then nuke New York.

How could such an optimistic battle plan possibly fail?