Axis and Allies Pacific 1940 : UK and Anzac Strategies

“UK and ANZAC: Slowing Down the Japanese Assault”


Written by Trallis on 01-07-2010 at Axis and

Pacific 1940 is in many ways an expansion released before its base game. Of the six major powers in global only one has its capital on the Pacific board: Japan. However, it is still a very interesting game to play in its own right. These articles will serve to give a feeling for the depth of strategy and breadth of options available to each power. I intend to show the options at each point. I have my own conclusions, though, and to these I will dedicate the most time and space. You are welcome to disagree with them, even encouraged. Please. Write me to tell me how wrong I am.

My play group always divides the Allies into US/China and UK/ANZAC, and the articles will be grouped accordingly. I’ve heard of groups that split it as US and UK/ANZAC/China. I can see the logic behind this. I am also writing assuming a house rule which forbids an attack on the first Japanese turn. I am considering writing a fourth article (after one for each power) on how to deal with a turn 1 declaration of war as the Allies.

Axis and Allies: Pacific 1940 : United Kingdom and Australia & New Zealand


Pacific 1940 will eventually become a clash between two titans – Japan and the United States. In the middle of this, the UK and ANZAC can get a bit lost. A successful ANZAC player will make around 20 IPCs. A US player will have a difficult time making less than 55, and if successful can be producing 70. The UK may be able to crank out around 30, but it will plummet by the time ANZAC reaches 15. It is all too easy to fall in to the trap of feeling irrelevant when playing as the British Empire in Pacific 1940. However, this is a mistake.

Your centers of industrial production – India and Australia – are much more strategically located than the Western United States. If you purchase a minor complex on Queensland you can move ships from Australia to any space in the East Indies the turn after they are purchased. As the US, it takes a minimum of three turns from Western US to Celebes or Java, and that assumes ownership of the Caroline Islands and no hostile presence. Your forces will get there first. You are also right in the middle of the fight in a way the Americans just aren’t. Japan is going to be going after your territory, not the Americans, most of the time. America has the Philippines, Hawaii which is too hard to defend to be valuable to Japan, and a few islands like Guam and Midway that aren’t worth any IPCs to either side. Between the UK and ANZAC you’ll have Kwangtung, Malaysia, Borneo, Celebes, Java, Sumatra, Burma, New Guinea, not to mention India and Australia themselves. You are really in the thick of things. You may have to rely on America coming to rescue you, but you’ll be the one fighting the war long before they get there. Using these tactics, you can maximize your resistance and the amount of time it will take Japan to take India and Indonesia.


Your goal isn’t really to win in the sense that you aren’t really going to be pursuing the Allied victory conditions. You aren’t going to be the one invading the Japanese home islands. Your goal, instead, is to keep the Japanese from winning. You want to make every space captured be as expensive as possible to the Japanese, and force them to spread their force thin. When they take a space, you take it back. In this manner, you slow their advance to a crawl and give the United States time to arrive and obliterate their navy. When you do your job right, Japanese industrial production will be insufficient to repel the Americans and they will loose. When you do your job wrong, Japanese industrial production will climb until it rivals and eventually exceeds that of the United States. For the US to even matter, you have to be on your game.

As the UK the name of the game is force maximization. Attrition is your enemy. You’ll only have the opportunity to buy a few units before Japanese bombing and the loss of most of your valuable territories leave your industry in tatters. That said, you start with a reasonable amount of force. You have a reasonable navy, and quite an air force with 5 planes. You need to make those units count as much as they can. Japan would love to force you into a casualty-heavy pitched battle where both sides take heavy losses. Japan is far more able to replace those losses than you. The best strategy you can take is to mass your forces but leave them in positions that are inconvenient for the Japanese to attack. If you put all 5 planes on Malaysia, it will be very hard for the Japanese to attack. But beyond that, it will mean that every Japanese naval task force in the Indies will have to deal with the possibility of being attacked by 5 planes. Even if you don’t strike with those planes, it will mean the Japanese constantly will be forced to deal with the possibility of you attacking. Keeping ships near India is also good. They’ll be too distant to be worth Japans time, but with your naval base you’ll be able to strike at any time. Also as India you will want to focus on holding the Indies as long as possible, and that means a focus on naval power rather than land power. It may seem strange as the Japanese push through Burma and toward your capital, but Java is worth twice as much as Shan and Burma put together, much less all four Indies which are worth 20 IPCs to you all together. Eventually, though, Japan will eliminate your forces in the Indies, and at that point, you want to turtle with as many infantry as possible. But you want to delay that point as long as possible.

As ANZAC you’re usually, but not always, in less immediate danger than the UK. Your first goal is obviously to take New Guinea, but after that you want to focus on the Indies as much as possible. They are valuable, close to you, and can seriously help out your embattled British brothers. Your goal should be to take and retake the Indies, forcing the Japanese navy to keep fighting for them long past the point where the UK has given up resisting. If you take Celebes, say, from the Japanese it denies them 8 income because of the objective and give you 3. 8 income is more than a thorn in the side, they will need to dedicate force to taking it back quickly. As the game continues, you can be a very big help the US, providing cleanup and valuable air-support. If the US takes a valuable space that may be taken back by Japan, fly in planes. You can give the Japanese player all sorts of headaches in this manner.



* Keep Malaysia and Hong Kong: Barring a J1 attack you’ll keep these only your first turn. Hong Kong always falls the turn Japan declares war. Malaysia may fall quickly, or you may hold it quite awhile, depending. Even with Malaysia, taking back Hong Kong is next to impossible.
* Take all four Indies (Celebes, Java, Sumatra, Borneo). This only happens in a game where the Allies are winning, and usually only with help from ANZAC. Still, if you hold those four islands its a very powerful boost to your industry.


* Take New Guinea, Solomon Islands, New Britain. This is easy to accomplish and maintain. Japan may make attempts to slow you down by taking one of the four needed spaces, but its rarely worth Japans time to make a dedicate push against this objective.
* Take a Japanese space. This one is nice, and easy to accomplish, but it only works once.

Turn by turn synopsis

 Because of varying strategies, differing roles, and other factors no game will exactly match this scenario, but it is given as example of the tactics to use when playing as these powers.

 Turn 1:

Japan will have maneuvered itself in a position to attack the Indies next turn, penetrated deeper into China, and have built an industrial complex on the mainland somewhere, probably in Kiansiu. US maneuvers its fleet to Hawaii, and China retakes the Burma road.

UK Turn One:

You have time on the mainland. Japan can menace India, but right now, that will be a few turns off. You need to secure the money available in the Indies, and secure it quickly. Naval power is what matters now.

Purchases: 1 Transport. 1 Destroyer.
Movement: Try to establish a boundary by moving your infantry forward from India to Burma and Shan. Leave one infantry and one artillery behind so you can load them on the newly-built transport turn 2. Move all four fighters and 1 tac bomber to Malaysia since you can threaten the Indies from there. Move your transports from Malaysia to Sumatra and Java, bringing 2 infantry to Java and 1 to Sumatra. Move your battleship from Malaysia to India. Those transports will die. You can’t stop this. The best thing to do is to keep your valuable units out of harms way.
Alternate to putting your planes on Malaysia, using the air base on India you can get them to Borneo. The advantage is that you defend Borneo, but you also don’t have any infantry to absorb hits if the Japanese go after your air force. Borneo is a more vulnerable position, and without infantry the enemy can do quite a bit of damage.
Placement: Put them both on India. Now off the coast of India you have 1 BB, 1 CA, 2 DD, and 1 AP. With the Naval Base you can move those three spaces. The Japanese can’t ignore that, especially since your Malaysian air force can swoop in to support.

ANZAC Turn One:

Right now you need New Guinea. Other than that, watch Japan. Most of the time they aren’t going to menace you too much this early, but if they do, be ready for it.

Purchases: A minor complex on Queensland would be great, but you don’t have the IPCs for it. Instead, buy a transport. If the Japanese are looming too close, instead buy a destroyer.
Movement: Move your transport on New South Wales to New Zealand, bringing one infantry with you. Now next turn you move those two infantry to Dutch New Guinea, making use of New Zealand’s naval base. Move all four of your fighters somewhere, either New Guinea, or if the Japanese have more than one transport on the Caroline Islands, Queensland. By going through Sea Zones 33->48->49->54 its disturbingly possible for Japan to attack Queensland, so see if they have enough transports to do this. You can’t plug the hole, having only one surface ship to stop them, so your best hope if it looks like they might attempt this is to leave the four fighters on Queensland. Leave your 2 INF and 1 ART on Queensland in any case.
Placement: Put your transport off New South Wales, as this is the only place you can put it.

Turn 2:

Japan declares war! Hong Kong/ Kwangtung, The Philippines, Borneo, Java, and Shan State fall. Japan moves further into China yet again. Most of the IJN is around Borneo, Java, and the Philippines. Japan also does a strategic bombing raid on India and deals an exactly average 12 damage (see average SBR damage at bottom). The US moves and takes the Carolines. China retakes Yunnan a second time to restore the Burma Road.

UK Turn two:

Japan has pushed into Shan, but they don’t have anywhere near what they would need to take India yet. The Indies are in much graver danger, and you must push back now and push back hard.

Purchases: Assuming 12 IPCs on damage have been laid on India then you should purchase 5 IPCs of repair on India, 1 cruiser, 1 transport, 1 artillery. Adjust for higher or lower damage. Your goal is put yourself in a position to strike back and retake the Indies, which requires transports, ground troops to load them onto, and a navy to protect them.
Movement: Consider whether now is the time to strike. If the Japanese have concentrated their navy, it isn’t. Concentration is actually good, it means that it will take too long to actually capture the Indies. If they have split themselves up, pick a tempting target. Choose one of the four Indies, one that has a nice Japanese fleet around it, hopefully a fleet small enough that we can sink it without losing anything too expensive. Bring the navy from India and bring your air force from Malaysia, leaving one fighter behind. You should have enough power to take them out. Your Navy probably won’t survive the next turn, though. The transport you built should carry 1 infantry and 1 artillery to retake the island (Borneo or Java, probably). You want to send the remaining fighter north to attack Shan supporting the infantry from Burma. That way you maintain a buffer between India and the Japanese land forces. Land the air force that attacked the Japanese navy back on Malaysia. It will survive the next turn, unlike the navy that it accompanied.
Placement: Put the cruiser and transport off of India. Next turn you can try to take another island back.

 ANZAC Turn Two:

Let’s assume the Japanese did not strike at Australia, they usually won’t. If they did, get them off your continent as fast as possible. Otherwise, its time to increase our income by 50% and industrialize Queensland. We won’t be striking the Japanese where it hurts, yet, but we will real soon.

Purchases: Buy a minor industrial complex. Putting a complex on Queensland, which has a naval base, will mean we can send ships built in Australia right into Indonesia, the heart of the fray.
Movement: Move your transport from New Zealand to Dutch New Guinea. Objective accomplished, lots more money to work with! Move the transport you built on New South Wales last turn up to pick up troops from Queensland, and the north again to drop them in (east) New Guinea. Send your submarine west to where the action is. You may be able to pick off a lone wounded Japanese capital ship or transport. If Java belongs to the UK, put at least two of your fighters there. If not, leave all four fighters on New Guinea.
Placement: Put the complex on Queensland. Next turn you can build ships on a space with a naval base.

Turn 3:

Japan will generally be able to complete the conquest of the Indies this turn. You, of course, need to make this temporary. Japan will wipe out the main part of the UK navy, leaving behind only the newly-built cruiser. It will push back into Shan, although it will be another turn before the units built on the Kiangsu IC will make it south. Japan builds a second minor IC on Kwangtung. It takes Yunnan and looks to be able to hold it. It will probably leave a large navy and air force to defend the Philippines. It will SBR you again for an average of 10 damage.

Since the Philippines are heavily defended the United States captures Iwo Jima this turn and begins to crank out ships at its usual enormous rate, preparing to eliminate the IJN and save you. If you are lucky China will take Yunnan one final time, keeping the flow of money from India. If not, it hunkers down and prepares for the Japanese to slowly finish it off.

UK Turn three:

Japan has reduced you to 9 IPCs of income. Fortunately you can strike back, and Australia can as well. You are in grave danger and must succeed quickly to survive.

Purchases: Nothing. You will be near the cap for IPC damage. Its to your advantage to wait, since you will have more leverage to buy things next turn.
Movement: Your final proactive movement should be to take the cruiser and transport and try to take whichever island in the Indies is least defended. Use your air force to help clear the way. However, if everything is well defended then its more important to leave your air force alive.

After this point attacking is rarely worth it, except for orphaned transports. Your forces are much more useful on the defensive. That air force in Malaysia forces the Japanese to group together and to protect their transports, since you can strike at any time. If you attack but lose a lot of the air force, you may have done some damage, but the Japanese now do not need to protect their forces from a potential attack.
Placement: Nothing to place.

ANZAC Turn Three:

Australia is now ready to hop into the war like a kangaroo. Or some other marsupial. Celebes will be your first target, probably. But Java is also a nice target if its available.

Purchases: Buy an aircraft carrier if you built a transport turn 1. If you built a DD turn 1, you will not be able to afford this. In such a case, buy a cruiser instead. You need a navy to defend transports as you try to liberate Indonesia.
Movement: Move your transport to Celebes, using the fighters to clear the IJN from the area. You now will have increased your income and denied the Japanese an objective.
Placement: Put whichever ship you built on Queensland. It can get to Celebes next turn without issue.

Turn 4:

Japan re-completes its conquest of the Indies and has a major naval battle with the United States. The US offensive is blunted, for now, but they will be back. Japan will probably not be able to afford such a naval presence ever again. They SBR India for another 8 damage, reaching the damage cap. Things get especially dire for China as the Japanese factories on the mainland gear up, and the units they built start to penetrate into China. Japan upgrades its factory on Kwangtung to a major complex.

The United States continues to crank out ships. China whimpers.

UK Turn Four:

Its time to prepare to defend India. That’s your only thought at this point.

Purchases: Buy off the damage and buy as many infantry as you can afford, which may not be very many. The good news is you probably have shot down at least one bomber by this point, if not two.
Movement: If India looks secure for the time being, keep those planes on Malaysia and threatening the Japanese. If not, bring them to India to help defend.
Placement: Place the infantry on India.

ANZAC Turn Four:

Keep up the pressure on Japan in the Indies.

Purchases: Build 1 transport, 1 infantry, and 1 artillery.
Movement: Take Celebes or Java, whichever is easier. If the Indies are too defended, snatch Palau for an easy one-time 5 IPCs. Use the planes to support any attack by sea. Bring in the carrier to this attack, and land two of the planes on the carrier.
Placement: Place all three units on Queensland.

Turn 5:

Japanese units are starting to move into South-East Asia. Japan is preparing to take India, but you have another time before they strike, perhaps even two. Japan may take Malaysia, but it is likely that it will be too busy defending against the United States. Japan will not have yet finished off China, but there will be little left.

The US amasses enough force west of Hawaii to start to be a very real threat to Japan. China sits backs and waits for the pain.

UK Turn Five:

Keep up the defense.

Purchases: Don’t buy units this turn. Save your money and plunk down a bunch next turn.
Movement: If you haven’t brought those planes back to India, now is the time. Other than that, there’s not much for you to do.
Placement: Place nothing.

ANZAC Turn Five:

Keep up the pressure on Japan in the Indies. As long as you keep attacking there the Japanese will have to split their forces, making it easier for the US to destroy them.

Purchases: Build 1 transport, 1 infantry, and 1 artillery again. The US should have you increasingly covered, and its your mission to provide the troops to land in the Indies.
Movement: Keep taking the Indies as possible.
Placement: Place all three units on Queensland.

Long run:

India will not hold out very long. However, the US fleet is going to obliterate the Japanese navy and retake the Philippines. Australia will waltz Matilda into the Indies and supercharge is economy. The US and Australia will be able to land on the Asian mainland in Malaysia, Kwangtung, Korea, and other valuable locations to establish an industrial base on the mainland and push the Japanese back. Eventually Japan will become very income starved and the US will invade and win.Your efforts as the UK and ANZAC have slowed Japan down enough to allow the US to gain naval superiority, and the Rising Sun will set.

Alternative Strategies:

Mainland UK strategy:

As the UK you can focus on mainland Asia. Ships are expensive, and it take awhile for the Japanese to gain momentum in Southeast Asia. You can really help China out this way, and a strong China gives the Japanese all sorts of headaches. The problem with this tactic is that without building a navy in the Indian ocean the Japanese can get the Indies very quickly and keep them. That means a lot of money for them and very little for you, so this tends to fizzle pretty quickly.

Invasion of Australia:

If Japan forgoes an early attack on the Indies they can often instigate a devastating invasion of Australia. This is easy to discourage by defending Queensland. You can make it so expensive to do that it simply would not be worth their time. However, should Japan really dedicate itself to this goal it can wipe out Australia fairly quickly. This tends to be self-limiting. They will have used so much in this effort that the UK will take the Indies and have an enormous amount of money to resist them. Japan may not have to worry about the Aussies, but they will be crushed like a can by India from the west and the United States from the east. It tends to be a pretty interesting game, though. If you?ve never played a game where Japan attempt this, do.
Japan should move nearly everything it has to the Carolines on its first turn. Turn 2 it declares war and invades Queensland. Even if New Guinea is protected by a destroyer, the Japanese can use their naval base to sail around. Turn 3 they move south from Queensland and into New South Wales, using carrier born aircraft to support the attack. They can usually win this. Mopping up the rest of Australia is a breeze. While they do this, the UK should secure the Indies and will be able to build a very large fleet. American can then come to rescue Australia.

Early 1940 Declaration of War:

This will covered in a separate article. My playgroup considers this unsporting. Never the less, its a reality and can be resisted with a bit of luck.

Average SBR damage:

Calculating the average damage from an SBR has only one variable now that all facilities have AA, which is number of planes. Now, you may claim that since each plane does 1D6 damage they will deal an average of 3.5 damage per plane. This is wrong. There is a chance each plane will be shot down before it gets a chance to deal damage, and this must be factored in. We have three factors.

IP = Initial Planes, a variable
SR = [Survival Rate] = (Surviving Planes / Initial Planes) or 5/6
ADPP = [Average Damage Per Plane] = ( 1D6 Damage / Surviving Plane) or 3.5
The units cancel out to damage.
Let’s assume 4 planes. So 4 * (5/6) * (7/3) = 11 and 2/3. An average of slightly less than 12 damage with 4 planes.

For successive turns of SBR I assume 5 of 6 planes will survive to bomb again, allowing for fractions. Nobody in the history of the game has been bombed by 3.33 planes, but for averages, it works.

INF (Infantry)
ART (Artillery)
ARM (Tank/Armor)
MCH (Mechanized Infantry)
AA (Anti-air gun)
FGT (Fighter)
TBM (Tactical Bomber)
SBM (Strategic Bomber)
BB (Batleship)
CV (Aircraft Carrier)
CA (Cruiser)
DD (Destroyer)
SS (Submarine)
AP (Transport)

Note, all naval units are abbreviated by their standard US hull classification. CA (Cruiser, Armored) is used because CL or CH is not quite appropriate. CV (Carrier, heaVier than air) is the historically appropriate classification even if counter-intuitive. Same story for AP, that’s the US Navy classification for a transport vessel.