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Cataclysm: A Second World War» Forums » Variants

Subject: Thoughts on enabling invasions from naval bases rss

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Peter M
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In my last game Democracies got severely locked out of land attack options. France has collapsed to exhaustion and UK had problems succeeding in its political attempts (failed mobilization attempt 3 times in a row). US was militarized to total war and in war with Japan. Japan managed to capture Philippines. At this point there simply was no way for USA to attack any land areas. Their land units could only occupy Washington and California and there is nothing in invasion range from there (except of Scotland which was UK held)

Also US does not have interests anywhere so they cannot get a foothold for their land armies via diplomacy either. So US had literally nothing to do with their offensives once all Japanese navy, air, and resources were destroyed.

Fascists were happily observing the US desperate hunt of Japanese navy, making sure not to provoke Democracies in any way and simply throw it all against Soviet Union.

In an unlikely event of both France and UK collapsing to exhaustion there simply would not be any way for US to actually start attacking any land areas. The only remaining hope as far as I can see would be to intervene in a civil war (e.g. in Spain), hope in the civil war victory and then gain control of that country by diplomacy.

All above felt a bit strange, unless I am missing some other ways US could actually get engaged in land combats. Or is it a strong design principle that US shall not be able to engage in land combats unless in an alliance with UK or France? But still those alliances can go away by unlucky collapses and USA can get locked out.

So I thought of the following house rule modification of 7.1.4 to enable naval base initiated invasions:

Quote:
In a sea area with a naval base, a logistic unit increases the occupation limit to two naval units and a single infantry army (no tank army).
If at least 1 friendly fleet is present in the sea area then this infantry army can be activated for an invasion operation. The starting sea are is considered to be the 1st area of invasion path.
This would enable US to possibly start invasions both in Atlantic/Pacific without need of an alliance with UK/France. So from Iceland one can invade Scotland, Ireland, Norway, London, Britany, Spain or Portugal. In the Pacific US would gain lot of options to start invasions even Tokyo could be threatened from Hainan or Okinawa.

Optionally, if one removed the remote area restrictions from California, DC, and Canada then suddenly Axis can at least in principle threaten US from Hawaii, Aleutians or Iceland. In the official rules US can leave Pacific including California completely empty and focus on ETO without any risk.

Any thought on how such a variant could influence the game in undesired way? If the naval base started invasions are too strong one can possibly make them weaker in some of the following ways:
- the target land area of such an invasion cannot be occupied by any land units.
- such an invasion could always incur the extended range -1 penalty (so for example Okinawa against Tokyo)
- could not be augmented...

Thanks in advance for any thoughts.
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Kevin Bernatz
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How about simply having the US pressure the UK instead of gearing themselves up ...

Or the USSR pressuring the UK to get flags for an alliance with the US.

Historically, if the UK and FR both collapsed would that likely not have been a 'win' for the Fascists?

Not saying your rule can't be tried/used ... but it sounds like the Democracies got hosed in your game and, appropriately so, lost (or will lose). Could very well be through no fault of their own (dice gods are fickle that way :-> ) ... but as we tend to say..."Every game of Cataclysm is an outlier...".

-K
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Jonathan Yedidia
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peterM22 wrote:

So I thought of the following house rule modification of 7.1.4 to enable naval base initiated invasions:

Quote:
In a sea area with a naval base, a logistic unit increases the occupation limit to two naval units and a single infantry army (no tank army).
If at least 1 friendly fleet is present in the sea area then this infantry army can be activated for an invasion operation. The starting sea are is considered to be the 1st area of invasion path.
This would enable US to possibly start invasions both in Atlantic/Pacific without need of an alliance with UK/France. So from Iceland one can invade Scotland, Ireland, Norway, London, Britany, Spain or Portugal. From Canary Islands the same (except of Norway) + FN Africa and Provence. In the Pacific US would gain lot of options to start invasions even Tokyo could be threatened from Hainan or Okinawa.

Optionally, if one removed the remote area restrictions from California, DC, and Canada then suddenly Axis can at least in principle threaten US from Hawaii, Aleutians or Iceland. In the official rules US can leave Pacific including California completely empty and focus on ETO without any cost.

Any thought on how such a variant could influence the game in undesired way? If the naval base started invasions are too strong one can possibly make them weaker in some of the following ways:
- the target land area of such an invasion cannot be occupied by any land units.
- such an invasion could always incur the extended range -1 penalty (so for example Okinawa against Tokyo)
- could not be augmented...

Thanks in advance for any thoughts.
There were extensive discussions quite a few months ago about how the US could get locked out as you described. I like your solution better than anything proposed then, and personally I would restrict target areas for invasions out of the naval base to be unoccupied by any land unit. I think this properly reflects the logistical capability of the US (or other powers like Japan) to put on shore a land army but only so long as there was no serious opposition (as in Operation Torch).

By the way, you mentioned the Canary Islands, but that is not a naval base. In any case, from Iceland there are enough targets in the ETO.

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Jonathan Yedidia
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I had some more thoughts on this:

1. You have to figure out how to handle special British bases with respect to this rule. It opens up a can of worms about what the infantry army on the special British base is allowed to do, so it's probably simplest to say that infantry armies can never occupy special British bases.

2. You also have to figure out what to do about base capture operations that target a naval base containing an infantry army. It seems logical that a naval base containing an infantry army is immune to base capture operations, because the infantry army is much bigger than the marine force that normally captures a base. That would likely mean that the US would station an infantry army in Hawaii, making it immune to capture, but that seems OK to me; the idea that the Japanese could capture Pearl Harbor was always far-fetched, and it was never part of their planning for the Pearl Harbor attack.

Another possibility is to say that a base capture operation can only be attempted against a base containing an infantry army if the infantry army is out of supply when the operation is declared, in which case the infantry army does not take part in the battle and is returned to the force pool if the base capture is successful. That lets you liquidate bases that would otherwise be invulnerable by cutting off their supply.

3. Probably the power that would use this the most aside from the US would be Japan. E.g. from Truk they could threaten Papua or New Guinea, or from Ceylon they could threaten India, Persia, Iraq, Egypt, Burma, Java, and Malaya. That seems fine because they actually did build up in Truk to threaten Papua and New Guinea historically, and a buildup in Ceylon would be a really big investment for them, and they would have had to first capture Java, Malaya, or Burma to get there. Historically, there were some Japanese strategists who argued for an Indian Ocean strategy based on Ceylon.

4. I like this variant rule also for use in scenarios generated using my Random Campaign Generator
(https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/2134217/random-campaign-gen...) where sometimes it is even more likely that the US can get effectively locked out (e.g. in a scenario where the only other Democracy is France or Italy.)

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Peter M
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kbernatz wrote:
How about simply having the US pressure the UK instead of gearing themselves up ...

Or the USSR pressuring the UK to get flags for an alliance with the US.

Historically, if the UK and FR both collapsed would that likely not have been a 'win' for the Fascists?
All valid points Kevin, I guess you are right that the US could pressure the UK instead of heading into the war themselves. USSR had no luxury to pressure anyone, they were desperately dependent on Democratic flags to prevent Surrender. Democracies were in general short of the flags as Fascists were paying attention not to provoke them just to focus on the USSR.
 
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Peter M
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jed2000 wrote:

... personally I would restrict target areas for invasions out of the naval base to be unoccupied by any land unit. I think this properly reflects the logistical capability of the US (or other powers like Japan) to put on shore a land army but only so long as there was no serious opposition (as in Operation Torch).
yes, I am also leaning to that restriction

jed2000 wrote:

By the way, you mentioned the Canary Islands, but that is not a naval base. In any case, from Iceland there are enough targets in the ETO.
Good catch, I will correct my opening post.

jed2000 wrote:

1. You have to figure out how to handle special British bases with respect to this rule. It opens up a can of worms about what the infantry army on the special British base is allowed to do, so it's probably simplest to say that infantry armies can never occupy special British bases.
My rule as stated was intentionally only discussing sea areas with a naval base. I left British special bases out of this to avoid that can of worms, also I thought it make sense as the country that contains the special base (e.g. Spain) would probably not tolerate presence of a real foreign army.

jed2000 wrote:

2. You also have to figure out what to do about base capture operations that target a naval base containing an infantry army. It seems logical that a naval base containing an infantry army is immune to base capture operations, because the infantry army is much bigger than the marine force that normally captures a base. That would likely mean that the US would station an infantry army in Hawaii, making it immune to capture, but that seems OK to me; the idea that the Japanese could capture Pearl Harbor was always far-fetched, and it was never part of their planning for the Pearl Harbor attack.

Another possibility is to say that a base capture operation can only be attempted against a base containing an infantry army if the infantry army is out of supply when the operation is declared, in which case the infantry army does not take part in the battle and is returned to the force pool if the base capture is successful. That lets you liquidate bases that would otherwise be invulnerable by cutting off their supply.
My interpretation of that army unit on a naval base is that few marine divisions specialized in amphibious warfare are present on the base itself. If they perform a successful invasion e.g. from Caroline Islands against New Guinea then rest of the army divisions are transported in after the marines secure the beachhead. So I thought not to grant any defense benefits to naval base occupied by an army unit. If a naval base containing an army unit is captured the army unit shall be returned back to the force pool, which represent loss of those marines present on the island and all the investments put into a planned invasion that was canceled by the enemy base capture. So it is a risky business to place units on bases. Players better protect their marines with their naval units. An army unit present on a naval base shall not represent any defensive investment into the base but an offensive invasion preparations that could be destroyed by enemy base capture.

jed2000 wrote:

3. Probably the power that would use this the most aside from the US would be Japan. E.g. from Truk they could threaten Papua or New Guinea, or from Ceylon they could threaten India, Persia, Iraq, Egypt, Burma, Java, and Malaya. That seems fine because they actually did build up in Truk to threaten Papua and New Guinea historically, and a buildup in Ceylon would be a really big investment for them, and they would have had to first capture Java, Malaya, or Burma to get there. Historically, there were some Japanese strategists who argued for an Indian Ocean strategy based on Ceylon.
Another usage I can see is in the MED, if France collapsed and UK lost Egypt and Jordan then the US and UK have currently no place to start invasions against Italy and/or Egypt. With this rule they can possibly utilize Malta for getting back into the MED.
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Kevin Bernatz
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I do want to add that at one point, naval bases allowed the stacking of an army in addition to one naval and one air force. We went away from that due to various complications that it caused, but - at this time - I don't remember the specifics (they must have been compelling enough for us to drop the army stacking, though...).

So any allowance of armies stacking at a base need to think about things like what happens if the base is captured under the army, what if the power collapses, etc. It may be that rule changes subsequent the stacking change rendered our original concerns moot... but just giving you background on the development re: armies and bases.

-K
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Jonathan Yedidia
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kbernatz wrote:
I do want to add that at one point, naval bases allowed the stacking of an army in addition to one naval and one air force. We went away from that due to various complications that it caused, but - at this time - I don't remember the specifics (they must have been compelling enough for us to drop the army stacking, though...).

So any allowance of armies stacking at a base need to think about things like what happens if the base is captured under the army, what if the power collapses, etc. It may be that rule changes subsequent the stacking change rendered our original concerns moot... but just giving you background on the development re: armies and bases.

-K
I can see why letting armies generally stack on naval bases would be way too much. It doesn't fit the scale of the game. If you don't count the sea area of the base itself as the first sea area for an invasion operation, and don't otherwise limit them there would be way too many targets for such invasion operations from bases, and it would probably become the preferred way of launching a lot of unrealistic amphibious invasions.

But with limiting restrictions (only on naval bases with logistics units, only infantry armies, shortening the range, only targeting areas devoid of land units) like in Peter's suggestion, it seems to me to be appropriate and realistic.

I think that if you tried to find situations in the historical war where one could identify Peter's rule being taken advantage of, there was probably only one. It would be reasonable to say that the Japanese put a logistics marker on Truk and an infantry army there, and then in early 1942 they captured Raboul from Truk in a base capture operation, and then New Guinea in an amphibious operation using the infantry army from Truk.

I think that because of the restrictions, Peter's variant rule would not typically be taken advantage of too much in the game either, but it would be a useful option to have and would keep some strategically implausible situations from arising. And I cannot so far find any serious complications that would result aside from the ones he's basically already addressed. There's a couple small things that I've addressed in the rules below; I'd be happy to hear about any loopholes that remain.

To summarize the variant rule change, as I understand it, change the rules of 7.1.4 "Logistics Units" as follows (bold text is the added text):

Quote:
7.1.4 Logistics Units
A logistics unit represents a concentration of facilities and material strength. It negates the effects of restricted terrain (occupation limits and LOC) in its area. Logistics units are limited to one per area.

In a sea area with an air base it increases the occupation limit to two air units.

In a sea area with a naval base, a logistic unit increases the occupation limit to two naval units and a single infantry army.

Logistics units never move except when played from the action cup or reserve (3.7.2). They are never activated for operations (9.1), contribute nothing to combat, and cannot take losses (10.8). Logistics units are destroyed and returned to their owner’s force pool if forced to retreat (10.10) or if their area or base is no longer controlled by a friendly power.

An infantry army occupying a sea area with a friendly naval base and containing a logistics unit may be activated for a special invasion operation (9.3.2), where the sea area of the base itself is exceptionally counted as the first area on the path to a target land or mixed area, and the target area must not be occupied by any land units. Such infantry armies contribute nothing to the defense of the sea area they occupy, and are destroyed and returned to their owner's force pool if the logistics unit is removed from the sea area or if the naval base is no longer owned by a friendly power.
You would also want to add a bullet to the occupation limits for Sea Areas (7.1.2):

Quote:
Up to one infantry army may occupy a sea area with a friendly naval base containing a logistics unit.
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Jonathan Yedidia
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Peter, I'm wondering if the army on the naval base with a logistics unit really needs to be restricted to be an infantry army? Of course the army doesn't really represent the marines that make the initial amphibious assault, it represents the full force of the follow-up, much or most of it potentially shipped in from further than the naval base.

If you restrict to a single infantry army, and look at the important case of invasions of European areas from Iceland (but excluding Scotland which would probably be well protected), the invasions become very chancy, even when invading areas that have no defensive air support (and of course no defensive land unit). They would all be at extended range and outside the range of offensive air support, giving a -1 extended range modifier in addition to the +1 defensive modifier for the invasion. Assuming the US is at Total War and augments to +1, you would be rolling two dice against one but with a +1 defensive modifier, so a pretty high chance of failure. If you were able to use a tank army instead, you typically won't get an armored bonus because of adverse terrain, but at least the attackers can absorb one hit and still make it ashore.

The variant rule is also simpler without the restriction to infantry armies, and gives the attacker more options, but it's still disadvantageous to use these types of invasions compared to ordinary ones if ordinary invasions are available. So I'm inclined to make the change, but would be interested in other opinions.
 
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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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It used to be the rule, but it pretty much broke the PTO, so we canned it.
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Jonathan Yedidia
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sdiberar wrote:
It used to be the rule, but it pretty much broke the PTO, so we canned it.
Thanks for your and Kevin's background info. I just would be very surprised that it would actually break anything if you require a logistics unit on the naval base, and shortened the range of the invasions by saying that the sea area of the base was the first area in an invasion path. And we're also proposing that the target invasion area has to be a land or mixed area with no land units on it; and definitely not another naval base.

It seems to me it really depends on the details of the rule you used to use. I could imagine that you just had the simple rule that one army could occupy a naval base, irrespective of logistic units. Then the range would be long, and the armies could amphibiously assault other naval bases helter-skelter, so yes I would imagine it would break the PTO.
 
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Peter M
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jed2000 wrote:
Peter, I'm wondering if the army on the naval base with a logistics unit really needs to be restricted to be an infantry army? Of course the army doesn't really represent the marines that make the initial amphibious assault, it represents the full force of the follow-up, much or most of it potentially shipped in from further than the naval base.
My idea is to make these base initiated invasions rather weak than strong. I think it is still fine if it is a low chance possibility. US can easily have 10+ offensives a turn so can afford doing multiple attempts. Regular, land area initiated invasions shall be strongly preferred if available. Invasions from a naval base shall be preferably used only as a last resort tool if regular invasions are no longer possible.

In your example, eg. invasion from Iceland against Portugal. The modifiers are +1 for defender for Invasion, -1 to attackers for extended range, so it is 2D-1 vs. 1D+1 (27% of success) or if augmented goes to 42% of success.
US however can also get air support from Canary Islands, rolling 3 dice and odds going up to 35% or 51% if augmented. So with air support US needs on average 2 augmented offensives to get foothold in Portugal.

If you would allow a tank army then a tie is also good enough to capture the area and thus the odds would go up to 51% (or 67% if augmented).

On the other hand, in PTO allowing tanks might be too strong. If US gets hold of Okinawa... they can threaten all Tokyo, Korea, Hebei, Jiangsu, Guangdong, Philippines without extended range penalty. Could even use armor superiority against Hebei or Jiangsu. So I would be worried that if you allow tanks on naval bases if might become standard US strategy to simply ignore Japanese entrenched on Philippines. Grab Okinawa instead and gain a relatively simple foothold in mainland China.

So I would rather keep the naval invasions as weak as possible to make sure they are not breaking anything. Actually, now I am inclined to make the base initiated invasions always to be considered at -1 extended range penalty.... otherwise Okinawa -> China -> Tokyo might be a new overpowered US strategy.

So I would add the bold part to the following sentence in 9.3.2 (invasions):
Quote:
- If an invasion is initiated from a naval base or if the invasion path consists of two areas,
the invasion is at extended range, and the attacker suffers a –1 penalty in the invasion land combat (10.4).
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Jonathan Yedidia
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peterM22 wrote:
jed2000 wrote:
Peter, I'm wondering if the army on the naval base with a logistics unit really needs to be restricted to be an infantry army? Of course the army doesn't really represent the marines that make the initial amphibious assault, it represents the full force of the follow-up, much or most of it potentially shipped in from further than the naval base.
My idea is to make these base initiated invasions rather weak than strong. I think it is still fine if it is a low chance possibility. US can easily have 10+ offensives a turn so can afford doing multiple attempts. Regular, land area initiated invasions shall be strongly preferred if available. Invasions from a naval base shall be preferably used only as a last resort tool if regular invasions are no longer possible.
OK, I take back the proposal about allowing tank armies on naval bases. Actually, the thing that bothers me the most is that there would be an unrealistic incentive to introduce tank armies into the PTO.

peterM22 wrote:


So I would add the bold part to the following sentence in 9.3.2 (invasions):
Quote:
- If an invasion is initiated from a naval base or if the invasion path consists of two areas,
the invasion is at extended range, and the attacker suffers a –1 penalty in the invasion land combat (10.4).
This proposal I don't think I agree with (not that it's a big deal). My two arguments against it would be (1) that all else being equal, closer invasion targets should in fact be favored over further away ones (for example, all else being equal, it should be easier to invade French North Africa, Libya, or Sicily from Malta than Provence, Turkey, or Yugoslavia), and (2) that it is an unnecessary complication to the rules.

It does not bother me if very occasionally, invasions from naval bases would be used even when a power was not forced to use it because it was locked out. It seems to me that the existing restrictions, especially the need to use a logistics unit, already keep the new rule from "breaking" anything.

By the way, the case you are worried about, with the US bypassing a well-entrenched Japanese army in the Philippines and using Okinawa instead, is actually not all that unrealistic. There was a big debate between Nimitz and MacArthur during the war about whether the US should engage in an island-hopping campaign or go for a recapture of the Philippines. In the end, the debate was resolved by the fact that the US had the resources to do both, but it is easy to imagine a US strategy that completely bypassed the Japanese entrenched in the Philippines. Some historians like Max Hastings argue that the recapture of the Philippines was a waste of time and resources, and strategically irrelevant. Of course, in the rules as written, recapturing the Philippines is basically required if you want to invade Japan.

Also, if one takes Empire of the Sun as a more realistic fine-grained simulator of the PTO, there is nothing particularly sacred about the Philippines as a place from which to launch invasions compared to Okinawa in that game. Okinawa should indeed be a base that Japan has to carefully defend.
 
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Peter M
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jed2000 wrote:

peterM22 wrote:

So I would add the bold part to the following sentence in 9.3.2 (invasions):
Quote:
- If an invasion is initiated from a naval base or if the invasion path consists of two areas,
the invasion is at extended range, and the attacker suffers a –1 penalty in the invasion land combat (10.4).
This proposal I don't think I agree with (not that it's a big deal). My two arguments against it would be (1) that all else being equal, closer invasion targets should in fact be favored over further away ones (for example, all else being equal, it should be easier to invade French North Africa, Libya, or Sicily from Malta than Provence, Turkey, or Yugoslavia), and (2) that it is an unnecessary complication to the rules.

It does not bother me if very occasionally, invasions from naval bases would be used even when a power was not forced to use it because it was locked out. It seems to me that the existing restrictions, especially the need to use a logistics unit, already keep the new rule from "breaking" anything.

By the way, the case you are worried about, with the US bypassing a well-entrenched Japanese army in the Philippines and using Okinawa instead, is actually not all that unrealistic. There was a big debate between Nimitz and MacArthur during the war about whether the US should engage in an island-hopping campaign or go for a recapture of the Philippines. In the end, the debate was resolved by the fact that the US had the resources to do both, but it is easy to imagine a US strategy that completely bypassed the Japanese entrenched in the Philippines. Some historians like Max Hastings argue that the recapture of the Philippines was a waste of time and resources, and strategically irrelevant. Of course, in the rules as written, recapturing the Philippines is basically required if you want to invade Japan.

Also, if one takes Empire of the Sun as a more realistic fine-grained simulator of the PTO, there is nothing particularly sacred about the Philippines as a place from which to launch invasions compared to Okinawa in that game. Okinawa should indeed be a base that Japan has to carefully defend.
Obviously you know way more than me about the war in Pacific . Also I think it would be great if there were alternative ways to attack/defend Tokyo.

For my next game, I however would prefer to first test the naval base initiated invasions as weak as possible (as there are those warnings from Scott and Kevin that they found them game breaking in their testing).

Also, the major combat of a naval invasion is not happening on the beaches, the landing force (few 10 thousands of troops) fights for a day or few to gain control of the beaches so that the whole army (100 thousands of troops) can be transported in and get engaged in several weeks long battle for the control of the whole country/land area. The -1 extended range penalty I believe is trying to model decreased probability of the invasion success due to
a) the landing force is required hold the beaches safe longer until the main force from a longer distance can safely land.
b) the several weeks long battle for the country is harder for the invader to supply if the supplies have to be transported over a long naval distance. As my assumption is that a naval base can provide only a limited invasion support and bulk of the invading army and offensive supplies have to be transported over long distances I think it is still quite realistic to apply the -1 extended range penalty to any invasion initiated from a naval base.

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