Bye Bye Hollywood!

The hardest battle of my war so far has been the occupation of Pearl Harbour, which took just over a year and was bitterly fought on both sides. Final victory came after a year of fruitless land battles, a near-successful starvation campaign on my part, the death of probably 30000 merchant seamen, the near total destruction of the US surface fleet, and ultimately the complete annihilation of Los Angeles and San Francisco. By February 1948 I had lost about 6 divisions of soldiers, 6 submarine flotillas, 6 transport flotillas, a single aircraft carrier, perhaps 50 or so convoy ships and a couple of light cruisers. The US had lost about 30 divisions of soldiers (including advanced marines, motorized divisions and heavy armour), about 10-12 carriers, 5 or so battleships, its entire complement of troop transports[1], all supply convoys operating in the Pacific and their cruiser escorts, probably 40-50 destroyers, and its entire complement of mid-sized ships. By the end of the Pearl Harbour campaign, with its supply lines disrupted by nuclear attack and dissent, a force of 3 advanced carriers would be so weak that in one instance it was annihilated by a group of interwar heavy cruisers escorting my transport ships. I estimate the total human cost of this for the USA to be quite staggering – 300,000+ soldiers, 30,000+ merchant sailors, possibly upwards of 30,000 sailors, and the entire populations of Los Angeles and San Francisco.

A long campaign proceeds from a very simple mistake

The campaign dragged out for so long because I lacked sufficient transports to safely invade two Hawaiian islands simultaneously. Concentrating on the key island (Pearl Harbour), I managed to win a brutal amphibious assault, but I didn’t realize that the soldiers on that island could island hop without ships, so they skipped over to the neighbouring island without losing any significant numbers. My own forces, exhausted and worn down after an amphibious assault that took several days, could do nothing to pursue the enemy while it was in tatters, and I hadn’t organized a second set of reserves to bring in to the fray quickly. I had, in essence, failed to prepare for the invasion properly, fielding a force of only 8 divisions of marines and having nothing in reserve for a second attack. By the time I got my act together, the US had consolidated some 15 Divisions on the neighbouring island, and was attempting to land more. It’s just not possible to attack a force of 15 Divisions when you have to cross a narrow channel to do it, and worse than that, US soldiers are excellent fighters. When they’re well supplied you’re lucky if you can beat one division of well dug-in modern soldiers with all 8 Divisions of your marines. Dug into mountainous Kauai, with more troops landing on nearby Niihau, there was no chance I was going to complete the conquest of Hawaii. There followed a short period of stalemate before I was able to capitalize on a tactical error to capture all the more eastern isles (Hawaii and Maui), but the problem remained. America was facing its own Iwo Jima here, and any assault on it would be disastrous for all involved, but probably unsuccessful for me. A different approach was me.

A campaign of starvation

The main method for defeating overwhelming forces is to cut them off and starve them into a condition of weakness, so I decided that, with my navy in command of most of the high seas and only one significant carrier group still functioning on the US side, I could probably attempt to shut down the US army on Kauai by a blockade. I set my main carrier group (a force of 15 carriers plus screen ships) to work in the northeast Pacific, and set other smaller fleets to work immediately around Hawaii. I also redeployed ballistic missiles to Hawaii, in anticipation of the development of my first atomic bomb. During this campaign I also starved out the smaller US forces on the Line Islands and, eventually Wake Island – the latter was proving a considerable problem, since its naval bombers were disrupting my naval activities, and its capture in late 1947 left the US with nowhere left to base aircraft anywhere in the Pacific.

This starvation policy worked well in some respects. I quickly reduced the US to a very small number of convoy ships, reproducing results like the Disaster of PQ17 very regularly. This means that the US would be unable to supply other forces, to import materials from distant outposts, or to trade properly. However, somehow the convoys continued to get through my cordon, and the soldiers never properly starved. The US also introduced a similar scheme on me, operating from Diego Garcia in the Indian ocean to reduce my Indian Ocean convoys.This had the same effect on me – diverting supply ships away from Pearl Harbour. In late August 1947 my Samoan expeditionary force was disbanded due to lack of supplies, and I suddenly realized a huge problem. Troops in Hawaii were now out of food for large periods of time, and I couldn’t supply my ballistic missile squad, so I couldn’t operate my planned nuclear attack. I had to act fast to divert production to convoys, but it wasn’t until December 1947 that I finally restored regular supply to Pearl Harbour. This was potentially disastrous – had the US attacked at that time I probably would have lost the defense. Perhaps they didn’t attack for the same reason as me – lack of reliable supply. But I think they didn’t know my situation, and saw the numbers of troops on Pearl Harbour as too difficult to break. In fact these numbers were part of the problem – I had so many troops and ships in the area that I couldn’t supply them fast enough with my available convoys (or even when I doubled my convoy force!) This is a big problem for Japan in the Pacific, because holding all these scattered islands and possessions (in my case, from Oman to New Zealand) requires huge reserves of convoys that are very vulnerable to attack.

So, I redistributed some of my troops to other islands (Midway, Wake, Kwajalein) and rebalanced supply by December. I then decided to strike the final blow in my policy of starvation before shifting to the attack – a nuclear strike.

Nuclear apocalypse comes to America

At this point I discovered that I’d misunderstood the game interface, and had probably been in possession of a bomb since May some time – my next bomb would be ready in December. So I had one to play with in November, and another coming a month later. My first attack was on the highest value target on the West Coast, Los Angeles. I reduced the entire city to ash, setting all its productive, industrial and infrastructure capacity to 0. A month later I followed up with San Francisco, and also a conventional missile attack on San Diego and Portland. By January dissent in the US was running at 10%, which is a huge drain on their fighting ability, supply effectiveness and industrial capacity. After this attack I think the masterminds of the US war effort decided to redouble their efforts to supply Hawaii and recapture Pearl Harbour, because my carrier fleet in the East Pacific intercepted several larger fleets, all of which met a similar fate to the rest of the ill-fated US navy. The remains of the US’s carrier fleet went to the bottom of the sea, and I now possess the largest, most powerful navy in the world, in control of the largest empire. But, the US still controlled half of Hawaii, and remained a threat to my installations there. I began reshuffling my forces to strike the final blow, beginning with the naval capture of Niihau. Still lacking sufficient transports, I was again reduced to shuffling forces one at a time, but due to the supply restrictions I was now basing my marines in Midway Island.

The final battle: grasping the chance of a desperate error

While I was shuffling my forces around the US launched a desperate attack from Kauai against Niihau to try and recapture it. Were this to work, I would lose some 12 Divisions of troops to the US aggressor, and given their supply situation I doubt the survivors of that battle would be treated according to the laws of war. I had to launch a desperate counter-attack, which I did first of all by flank-attacking them from the neighbouring island of Pearl Harbour. Even throwing 12 more Divisions into the battle didn’t turn the tide though, just slowed down the inevitable destruction. But I had a force of semi-battle ready marines in Midway, which I sent in to attack the island on which the US was based – an enveloping attack that, in my past experience, was still not a very reliable tactic against a large and dug-in US force. I also dispatched my central carrier group to bombard the island, and threw more soldiers from Pearl Harbour into the battle to prevent the US from achieving a preliminary victory in Niihau. The extra troops delayed the inevitable just long enough for my marines to hit the beaches, and this turned the tide. The defenders in Niihau repulsed the US attack, and then my marines slaughtered them on the beaches. Some 12 infantry and 3 armoured divisions were cleaned up in that final, desperate battle, and all of Hawaii had fallen into Japanese hands.

The aftermath

First I want to make it clear that Japanese forces won’t treat our prisoners with the same callous disregard that the US were willing to show in those final twilit hours of their illegal occupation of Hawaii. They will be treated with honour as prisoners of war, and given the situation in their homeland now I suspect they’ll be glad of the rest and recuperation that time in a Japanese prison camp has to offer them. I now control all of Asia from Oman to Hawaii, Korea to New Zealand, with the exception of Nationalist China and Australia (which is in any case a puppet of mine after its earlier conquest). For now I’m leaving Nationalist China while I finish off the US, because capturing China opens a huge border with Russia. I will have another nuclear weapon ready in May, and I’m confident that by then I will also have several ICBMs built. My plan is to strike New York, which will probably throw the US into such disarray that they will suffer a coup or collapse to barbarism (partisans). I will then invade through Seattle.

Some lessons learned:

  • Dissent is a powerful tool: Not only does it weaken armies, but it reduces industrial capacity (10% dissent in the US equates to 40 points of IC – I only have 230). Reduced IC can only be recovered by increasing the amount of money produced[2], but liberal democracies[3] require a lot of consumption to reduce dissent. This means that the US not only loses IC from dissent, but then has to devote more IC to quelling it. Once my third strike pushes dissent up higher, I aim to destroy other industrial centres, and capture the remaining West Coast centres in Seattle. Then it will be virtually impossible for the US to stifle its dissent and thus to continue to fight the war
  • Starvation is difficult: Even with complete control of the seas it’s very hard to blockade an island like Hawaii that sits at the juncture of several ocean regions. This, I suppose, is why it’s strategically important
  • Nuclear weapons turn the tide: There was a noticeable degradation of combat ability after I nuked the US. Dissent, loss of supply capacity all worked to prevent effective combat
  • Watch your convoys and supply load: As your territories expand – especially across many scattered islands – your supply convoy load increases dramatically. If you cluster too many troops on one island they will inevitably lose supply, and you open the risk of the entire lot of them being wiped out in one mistimed battle. As your empire grows, your convoys need to grow in accordance. Convoys don’t develop, so are perfect beneficiaries of gearing. Set a train of 9 or 10 running when you start expanding, and you’ll be fine. And if you see lots of little messages saying they’re being sunk, send one of your navies out to deal with it. And if you aren’t tough enough to protect your convoys, give up – you’re done for.

From here on I just have to work out how to capture the whole USA without marching across it, which will take forever. I’m thinking of a strategy of spies and launching a coup, but I really don’t fancy my chances. In the meantime I need to capture Diego Garcia to prevent attacks on my flank; and then I need to decide whether to head into Europe through the Suez canal, or deal with the last part of Asia that isn’t already mine – China.

With nuclear weapons at my disposal, these decisions are a lot easier than they were before. Unless someone else gets them too … and there’s only one way to make sure that doesn’t happen…

fn1: which, if they were sunk while carrying troops, means that the US may have lost an additional countless number of soldiers. I don’t know how many transports I sank, but if they were all populated with troops in movement, I may have killed another 200-400,000 soldiers by this means.

fn2: Hearts of Iron 2 uses the George W. Bush approach to controlling dissent during war – higher consumption!

fn3: Ha! It is the twilight of their age. From here on the world will see only Shogunates.