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War at Sea (second edition)» Forums » Variants

Subject: How can the Allies win? rss

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Dave LeLacheur
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Using standard War at Sea rules, how can the Allies win? My friend and I have tried both sides several times, and the Axis always win, usually by 8 or more POC.

What are your favorite Allies strategies?
 
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Peter Moskaluk
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Keep the Nelson and Rodney in the North Sea along with a few 4-4-4's i.e older battleships.

Also keep 1 carrier in each Sea Zone especially the North Sea. The Axis player will now face at least 1 triple ASW roll anywhere he wants to drop a sub.

In the Barents you want the Ark Royal and Hood and anything else fast moving about 6 ships total.

I also like to have about 11-12 ships to start in the MED so that you create a horrible dilemma for the Italians right out of the gate.

I guess you can see why your opponent will not enjoy your North Sea blockade.

With this configuration the Italians could be trashed on the first turn with bad die rolls if they want to play with the Royal Navy. If they want to wait a couple of turns; match their reinforcements and take the points for your trouble. The Italians aren't going to be getting help from the Germans this game or vice versa.

By the way feel free to bomb the Italian Cruisers every turn until there is nothing left to target. Then switch to anything German if you want.

Every other sea zone should have 4-5 ships.

Yes with this strategy the British will of course lose a sea zone or two BUT the important thing is that YOU WILL ATTRIT the Axis and they WILL BE taking ships off the board EVERY TURN or they will be losing points of control [the game] by staying in port.

Remember the British can even replace carriers almost every turn. They have more units to start and pretty solid reinforcements. By comparison the Axis margin for error seems razor thin to me.

The main thing is just make sure you don't give the Axis any easy point scoring opportunities.

Since this is a great dice game- anything can happen. However If you try this look- I think you will find the Axis player sweating almost all of his decisions. If he gets unlucky in battle just once he'll know its game over before turn 8. Remind him of this constantly especially whenever he considers sailing the Italians in the Med. For example just say "this is game over for you if you lose the Med. here on turn 1." The funny thing is it's probably true; and he knows it.

One more thing. It's often worth a special effort to concentrate your wrath on the Bismarck. It's always a deflating psychological loss for the German player when, and if, it goes under and such a confidence boost to you as the Allies to see it come off the board.

Hope this helps,

Good Luck


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As the Allies, I've always left the Mediterranean alone. After all, the Italians can't leave, and it's only worth 2 victory points. If the Germans take the Baltic, they get 3 total. But by turn 3, the Russians contest that.

Am I missing something?
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Peter Moskaluk
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You aren't missing anything Neo. Some people are convinced that the evacuation of the Med. is the best Allied strategy.

I believe it has some merit- however I dislike it for several reasons.

First as the Allies you are giving up 2 points per round for 8 turns.

16 free points for the Axis? I'd take that anytime as an Axis player. Also you don't get a chance to bust up the Italian fleet on the 8th turn.

By the way in the rules it says the smallest Italian ships (cruisers) can leave the Med.

Anyway if you are evacuating the Med. as the Allies I guess you will be super-stacking primarily the North Sea and Barents Sea.

If I play Axis against this plan you leave me one choice. Sometime after say turn 3 or 4, or if you get unlucky with speed roles in the Barents sooner than that, I go all in with my entire fleet in the Barents.

I will have all my subs and the targeting bonus.

After the battle chances are that you will have half of your Barents fleet i.e. half of your Navy stuck in the Russian port because thats where they go after turn 2 with a disabled result. The German Navy might be tore up too but, if the British get unlucky in the big show its lights out because other sea zones will open up for the Germans on subsequent turns.

And since you give away points in the Med. the Axis player is always in the game, to the bitter end, and all they need is one or two break outs to top your score.

In conclusion, it's a legit strategy albeit a "gamey" one that kinda forces the action down a predictable path. It leads to one big battle that decides the entire game. Since the Germans get to pick the time and place, it is never a sure thing for the Allies.

The most important thing however is to never pass up an opportunity to play or teach this game to a friend.

It has to be one of the simplest, most fun and well thought out war-games ever designed.
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Brice Yokem

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The problem with the Allies trying to take the Med is, it leaves the Allies thin elsewhere. To be sure to take the Med there has to be enough ships there to beat the Italians. And Germany cannot assist? They cannot send submarines there or land based air?

If the Allies do not send enough ships, then it is real hard to reinforce if the attack goes badly.

And repairs are slower for the Allies there than the Axis, so the Axis will win a war of attrition.

Abandoning the Med by the Allies leaves the Italian battleships with nothing to shoot at.
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Peter Moskaluk
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The British at the very least need to match the number of Axis ships in the Med. if they want to seriously contest the sea zone. Any token British presence will be overwhelmed eventually. The possible appearance of German subs and land based air must also be factored into the equation by the British player.

Damaged Allied ships can be returned to Britain at the end of a turn. Disabled ships get sent to Malta.

Brits abandoning the Med. means the big Italian ships collect barnacles in port however the British can giveaway up to 16 game points over 8 turns by doing this.

The Axis player who sees the Med. devoid of Allied ships will thus send his entire Navy against the weakest of the four remaining sea zones the Allies have left to cover on the first turn. If any British ships fail speed rolls in the Barents on turn 1 it can be big time trouble out of the gate. The German Navy at the start can still maul one quarter of the British fleet.

If the Allies give away points in the Med. I put my money on the experienced Axis player.
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captainkirk368 wrote:


The Axis player who sees the Med. devoid of Allied ships will thus send his entire Navy against the weakest of the four remaining sea zones the Allies have left to cover on the first turn.


Er... won't they do this anyway? Won't any of those four sea zones be *weaker* because the British have sent half their fleet into the Med?
 
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Brice Yokem

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I think captainkirk368 has a point, but I would like to see it done.
Unfortunately I am way far away from Ontario, but if ever in Oklahoma, would like to try it.

My experience (though limited) is that if the Allies try a serious effort to take the Med, the Axis is practically guaranteed to take one of the other zones without much effort. This means the British naval advantage will be whittled away, so in the later stages of the game they will not have the force to get those convoys to Russia.

Also, all the Italians have to do is get lucky and the RN loses the Med, with no serious way to reinforce and not enough force to challenge control of the remaining areas.

I have a rules question - Rule 16.1 allows German Ships to be placed in ANY sea area if refueled by oilers. Does that include the Med? Is there another rule for this?
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Peter Moskaluk
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Successfully oiled ships can be placed anywhere on the next turn by the Axis player including the Med. If the Axis player fails an oil attempt the ship goes to the neutral port in South America for the next turn. That is the way we play it anyway.

I personally do not like to oil. It takes big balls to oil. Try it next time with the Graf Spee. You might create some quality drama in the South Atlantic sea zone.

Another thing I love about this game is that no strategy is fool proof -for either side. A string of misfortune or luck can turn the tables very quickly.

This is one of the few games where the luck factor just works perfectly too. It's just plain fun to play through to see what happens.






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Brice Yokem

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I will oil on the first turn, especially if an effort is made to take the South Atlantic, that way if ships end up in the neutral port, they can get back out without being trapped there.

Luck? I have heard it called Yahtzee at sea...
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Brice Yokem

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Another question about German ships in the Med.
When disabled where do they go?
I have always played they have the option to go to Italy or Germany.
When withdrawing they go to Germany, right?
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Daniel Blumentritt
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All Axis in the Med follow the same return rules. If the Allies control the South Atlantic and/or North Sea you may have a tough time getting those ships back to Germany.

Quote:
Luck? I have heard it called Yahtzee at sea...


And VITP has been called Yahtzee in the Pacific. Yet each game has a half-dozen or so guys who win just about all the major face to face & internet tournaments in that game.

Quote:
After the battle chances are that you will have half of your Barents fleet i.e. half of your Navy stuck in the Russian port because thats where they go after turn 2 with a disabled result.


Unless the Allies lose the North Sea (which often means they are in big trouble anyway), they don't generally mind having their Barents ships up there. They'll be returning to port there at the end of the turn anyway, and it means no more speed rolls if they stick to the Barents.
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Dave LeLacheur
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I've enjoyed reviewing the discussion from time to time. However, I still don't see an Allied win as anything other than luck. Attrit the Germans? Yes, but how? You can't force the issue, and the U-Boats can deny Allied control of the North Sea (almost) whenever needed. The German player husbands the U-Boats for this eventuality, and then once the North Sea loses its control flag, the Allies have 4 sea areas to cover, not including the Med., against the entire German surface fleet. Germany will pick on the choicest sea area and demolish the Allied ships there -- the Bismark, Tirpitz, Scharnhorst and Gneisenau all undamaged and +1 to their attack rolls are holy terrors when used together. The loss ratio I've seen is typically 3:1 or 4:1 against the Allies, and that loses the game. (2:1 or less if sustainable but I've seen that only if the Allies rolled luckily.)

I've seen German get down several POC early on, and still come back and win decisively with this strategy. The Axis simply never allow their fleets to be attrited, but they have the 2nd move and U-Boats, and should be able to avoid unwelcome situations indefinitely.

So we're still seeing 80-90% Axis victories.

Looking for enlightenment,
Dave L.
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Daniel Blumentritt
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Yes, usually at some point in the game the Germans can break the blockade. If you stack enough ASW in there (remember you don't need lots of ASW in the Atlantics, if they want to split up their boats and try to deny 2 POC a turn when you have the lead and the blockade, let them; he'll gain at most 1 POC a turn that way and you still have convoys), you can make it not a sure thing. If you have all 7 carriers, put 4 of them in the North Sea.

If they do break through, keep the North Sea & Barents strong to threaten to reestablish the blockade the very next turn - make him fight in the North or South Atlantic instead. Half his fleet has to risk speed rolls when he does this, and if he's in the South Atlantic then his fleet might never make it make to Germany (and it can now not threaten the Barents). Put only battleships in the Atlantics and there's no way he should be getting 3:1 or 4:1 loss ratios.
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Dave LeLacheur
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Statalyzer wrote:
...If you have all 7 carriers, put 4 of them in the North Sea.


Thanks for your thoughts Daniel. One thing I haven't tried is putting all 4 CVs in the North Sea on Turn 1 & following (perhaps using reinforcing CVs elsewhere). I'll see if that helps. Cheers, Dave L.
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Daniel Blumentritt
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On turns 1 and 2 I would spread out the carriers since he has few u-boats, and its usually not worth risking them since here are also few replacements for them. Do be wary of using a CV in an area in which you know you'll be outnumbered on the surface if the Germans come in, though. If not outnumbered in round 1 and you do have CVs, try and target faster German ships in the first round of battles so they cannot chase down your carriers and sink them in later rounds if you withdraw.

Also, while the Allies are actually considered to have the advantage in tournament games right now, this is a 40 year old game and it took around 30 years for this to be the case, before that the Axis were considered to have the edge and even the sharks were bidding POC to play them. So, finding the Axis overpowered is pretty normal - all it means is you haven't been playing for 30 years. I remember when I played with my friend growing up, we would use the "turn Allies facedown" variant because we felt it was necessary to make it balanced.
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Dave LeLacheur
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Statalyzer wrote:
So, finding the Axis overpowered is pretty normal - all it means is you haven't been playing for 30 years.


An excuse I cannot claim, alas! It is, I think 31 years to be precise at this point. Though of course I don't play much nowadays & have instead published my own WW2 game, which is hopefully partially a tribute to WAS/VITP plus Hitler's War, and a better air & production system (see Blitz! A World in Conflict. :-)

But I still love this game's simplicity and will continue to puzzle over it!

Another greying bearded wargamer,
Dave L.
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