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Subject: Are naval rules broken or are we playing wrong? rss

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Michael Tan
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It seems that TAC is way too powerful. They hit on a 5-6 and can't be shot at by surface fleets. They also count double for sea control. Why would someone spend 4 BRP and wait 3 turns for a surface factor when a TAC factor cheaper and so much better. Also because sea control battles last three rounds, you must retreat your surface fleets or get drilled if they have no air cover.
 
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Mark Luta
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They are not broken, this is exactly what happened historically. The Italians made a (probably correct) decision they did not need carriers, because land based air could easily cover the Med. Britain therefore had to not only employ (and lose) several carriers there, but this was why it was absolutely critical to keep Malta. And when they lacked air cover, British losses of surface forces was horrendous--this war at sea would swing back and forth literally month by month.

With air cover, though, the surface fleets are extremely powerful. Without, either the British or Italians will need to cede control, and use a Naval action chit to move through the controlled sea areas--in which case they will only be attacked once while passing through each area, and then deliver the troops to a port. This well simulates operations such as the desparate move to get Wavell tanks and planes after Ritchie managed to lose almost all the British armour, or the desparate convoys to keep Malta in operation (in this game simulated by naval transport of air units there when SR is impossible and no bases are in range).

A common theme here is success on land or sea is very difficult to achieve without air cover, which to me at least is a very accurate representation of WWII in Europe. Note that the British are better able to cede control of the Med for a time (to either rebuild, or fend off German air effort in the Battle of Britain) than are the Italians. Britain can repair units cut off from London but supplied from Suez for double cost (representing shipping around Africa), while Italy/Germany cannot repair units in Africa when cut off from Europe and supplied only from Tripoli.

Similarly in the North Sea, Germany has no chance of exerting control here without Norway, but if Germany takes Norway, Britain is very stretched, trying to maintain control from the North Sea all the way to the Eastern Med--which was exactly their historical situation, they could not defend everywhere! On the other hand, Italy will eventually lose a war of attrition against Britain, no matter how bleak it looks in the interim, unless Germany sends enormous resources to Italy--resources which will be badly needed against Russia. And while Germany can use airpower to control some Atlantic sea areas, in the long term that is probably a misuse of those resources (though these can cause real problems for Britain on a short term basis)--raiding the Soviet-bound convoys in the North Sea is probably a better use.

For a great read on the subject, I recommend 'The Longest Battle, WWII at Sea' by Richard Hough, an excellent naval historian.
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Drew Heath
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markluta wrote:
They are not broken, this is exactly what happened historically...


I'm waiting on this game to arrive in the post, and your breakdown of the game mechanics & their historical counterparts has gotten me *really* excited!

Thanks Mark!
 
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Michael Tan
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Mark,

Barry and I played out until 1943 after you left. Italy placed 14 air factors and the UK placed 18 fleet and 9 air factors in the Central Med Sea Control Box. Italy rolled up a little and eliminated the British air in two rounds. First of all, it seemed really odd that the Italian air factors got to shoot twice because the UK had naval units and Italy did not. The presence of naval units effectively tripled their firepower. Then the UK naval units had to sit there and get pummelled for 3 rounds without any chance of return fire - contrast this to Asia Engulfed where AA fire is brutally effective. 14 air factors rolling at 5-6 will avarage 14 hits in 3 rounds. He rolled up and eliminated all 18 fleet factors. He caused about 120 BRPs of damage to a loss of about 12. Furthermore all the UK land units in Africa had to be flipped to reduced side - another 30 or so BRPs of damage.

With the rules as written, it would seem to be very easy for Italy to dominate the Med. If they just place every air factor in the Central Med Sea Control box, England is powerless to stop them. The UK has to protect 3 boxes to maintain supply so they don't have the luxury of cramming everything into one box like Italy. If the fleet factors could shoot back, things would make a lot more sense.
 
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Darrell Pavitt
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Which impulses were you playing?

Come to think of it, which rules set were you using? Use the 3rd edition, if you aren't already.

http://www.avalanchepress.com/pdf/SWW_Rules_3rd_Edition.pdf

In the Naval combat phase, both side's air units attack each other, then the surviving air attacks the naval units. What were the British air factors doing? They should have scored an average of 3 hits themselves on the TAC.

If you really want some AA rules how about:

Each naval factor rolls 1 die, and hits on a '6'.

Every 3 AA hits destroys one enemy air factor. Remaining hits negate one of the attacking air factor's hits.

 
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Jeff Adams
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It sounds like you were using the older rules. Note that in the third edition rules you could have used Suez as a supply source so you wouldn't need to flip your units, and I think that may have been an option in the older rules too. Note too you could have selected to retreat your naval units after any round of combat, an option after your supporting air was reduced or eliminated.
 
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Michael Tan
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We were playing 3rd edition rules. I was not aware of the option to supply the units from the Suez. Had either of us known that we would have played differently. It seemed to both of us at the time the time only way to keep the Brits in supply in North Africa was to let the fleet get pummeled for 3 rounds.

BTW The British air did score a couple hits, but the Italian air rolled really well and eliminated them in two rounds.
 
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Jeff Adams
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See 12.28:

Nations other than Britain and the USA may only repair units in North Africa that can trace supply to an eligible source in Europe
(15.3). Britain and the USA may use Suez (4227) as a supply source, but when using it for repair purposes it costs double the normal BRPs (for shipping troops and equipment so far). For example, it costs four BRPs to flip a reduced British 1-4 INF to its 3-4 side when using Suez as a supply source.
 
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Michael Tan
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Jeff Adams wrote:
See 12.28:

Nations other than Britain and the USA may only repair units in North Africa that can trace supply to an eligible source in Europe
(15.3). Britain and the USA may use Suez (4227) as a supply source, but when using it for repair purposes it costs double the normal BRPs (for shipping troops and equipment so far). For example, it costs four BRPs to flip a reduced British 1-4 INF to its 3-4 side when using Suez as a supply source.


Ah that changes alot. I still think surface factors should get a return shot against air but at least they don't have to sit there for three rounds and get pummelled. Thanks!
 
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Mark Luta
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Yes, as I said, you supply through Suez [or Tripoli] (there is also an option for the British to 'route around Africa' all their commerce at some cost, but then their BRPs in the Med cannot be raided), and if the naval/air situation requires Britain [or Italy] will use Naval moves (chit) instead of controlling the sea area for SR purposes, in which case the naval units are only attacked one round, then move through. Of course, doing so cedes complete freedom of SR to the other side...So sometimes there is no choice but to let fleets get pummeled for 3 rounds, and hope enough survive (note you need less than 4-1 superiourity against your units in the sea control box to retain 'contested' control, so a large number of fleet factors may still end up in total control against a small number of TAC).

Small additional point, colonial capitols which are under control of the original owning nation can also provide limited supply. So the French (original/Vichy/Free) draw limited supply from Damascus, and the British can draw limited supply from several capitols even if Suez is lost, they would just not be able to repair units unless they have a supply route to Britain or recapture Suez. (Tripoli is actually just a special case of this rule, as it can provide limited supply to German as well as Italian units, though without any rebuilding.)

Again, if you look into the historical situation, there is absolutely no validity for surface fleets doing any real damage to an air flotilla. They never could, British warships and merchant vessels paid a terrible toll to keep the land forces supplied, not to mention all the movement to and evacuation from Greece and Crete. As Admiral Cunningham (widely regarded as Britain's finest fighting admiral after Nelson) said, the Navy had to respond to the call to evacuate the Army from Crete, because, 'It takes the Navy three years to build a battleship. It takes three hundred years to build a tradition.'

Yes, it is (and was) entirely possible for Britain to lose the war in the Mediterranean in this game! They simply must commit the necessary air and naval, as well as ground units to prevent this, and it is a delicate balancing act indeed if Germany is at all pressuring Britain directly or with U-Boats. (If Britain can afford to build and use their SAC before 1943 without going into negative BRPs that year, it is a fair bet the Axis are well and truly defeated!) A larger than historic German commitment to Africa is certainly an interesting option in a multiplayer game where objective cities count--paradoxically, Italy might not allow too large a commitment for fear Germany will take too many objective cities! If the Germans do so, it is up to the Soviets to make sure they do not profit too much--but the Soviets would certainly not mind Britain losing a few objectives...Welcome to strategic problems!

It is probably also worth mentioning that naval units in this theater were not at all bristling with AA capability as would be the case in the Pacific, nor would the later radar sets have impact here as the war ended for Italy in 1943. Nothing was ever seen in the Mediterranean of a type of the carrier Enterprise with (eventually) over 100 AA guns, or the American battleships which appeared to be on fire when they opened up skyward with their full armament. Still, I suppose if the war at sea does continue full force into the second half of 1943, it might be reasonable then to allow the fleets some AA capability. But certainly not before.
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Tuomas Silvennoinen
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In our games we have given SURF limited AA capacity. We let shoot back TAC with one dice for every full 9 factor fleet.

Rule was created for the old rules set where singe TAC factor could take sea Control against any number of enemy FF.

We have been using this house rule even 3rd edition fixed above issue,
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