Well, 1 and about a quarter of a game. (Campaign games.)
First off: fantastic game, it is my first Pacific Theatre game and boy does it bring the history to life!
I really feel in the mind-set of the two sides, with the daunting strategic options and painful decisions of where to allocate resources.
The feel of battles across the years of the war just seems very accurately represented here in general.
Now, in my first game, the US lost, due to not being able to conquer Japan by the end of the game.
I failed to draw the Manchuria Invasion, even though I had been doing the strategic bombing and had cut the Japs off from all resources.
Very frustrating as the US, and I got this real feeling of dread late in the game over having to invade Japan; as expected the losses were BLOODY I lost 3 marine divisions and 3 army corps; my entire invasion force, gone, although I did take 3 cities.
Japan retook 2 cities on their last turn, after all the US forces had been destroyed.
This felt very historical to me I have to admit; the Japanese were prepared to fight to the end, and if they could defeat a large Allied invasion force they might have forced the US to accept a settlement slightly better than total defeat. No atomic bombing, or no Soviet entry would increase Japanese determination as well.
As the Japanese I built up a lot of armies and planes in Japan when I saw the imminent invasion, and inflicted heavy losses on the American carriers too, sunk like 4 of them.
(Each carrier unit is really 2 carriers together right? I think.)
That game I also tried, as the Japanese, to knock out China, and failed after getting as far as a threat to Chunking. The Hump air supply to China really killed me, that and the British/Indian hordes.
My second game I gave up partway through due to time constraints, but, the Japanese were not doing well: I focused on the Philippines turn 2 at the expense of the Dutch East Indies, so Turn 3 a whole ton of American reinforcements came into the Indies and I was taking bloody losses then.
So, the single biggest thing I'd say early game now for the Japanese, is to take the Dutch East Indies!!
You can cut off the Philippines and starve them into defeat, but if you don't take the DEI early on, it allows the Allies to buff up their defense there a lot, and make your life complete hell; you'll either lose way too much of your navy fighting in there, and/or be in severe shortage of resources the whole game!
This game really helps a player understand why the 2 sides did things the way they did, especially the Japanese. You can see the high-risk high-reward options of Australia, India, and China, versus the "grab and then protect the resources" strategy the Japanese did in real life.
And then there's the choice of how wide you want to make your defensive perimiter as the Japanese; first game the US lost a couple political will points because he had a hard time making war progress in my smaller, more defensible empire.
Great game, will play again tomorrow.
PS: has anyone ever taken Australia? I thought it would be cool and helpful to do so, to take out a major Ally, inflict the will loss and most importantly secure my southern flank as the Japanese wanted to do in real life. But it looks so hard; the US and Australian/NZ/British army can fill up in there so fast, and it's so many cities to take.
Australia, India, China, and Hawaii are all long shots, but the threat of all of them forces the Allies to play cautiously. Any one of them can materialize given some risk-taking and the right circumstances.