Submarine Rules…Whaaat?


  • Morning Gents,

    I’m fairly new to this forum, but have been playing A&A since its inception in the 80’s.
    I felt that since the rules that came with '42 were fairly vague concerning subs, I wanted to get some clarification.

    The very first two I ran into had me shaking my head. Nowhere in the rules does it say that artillery can fire on Subs. If this is the case why not men and tanks. Why not have subs shoot at artillery? I’m just sayin’

    The second one was about surprise attacks. Basically Krieghund said that subs get sneak attacks every roll that a destroyer isn’t present. Doesn’t this defeat the purpose of “sneak attack”. The way I interpreted the rules was that you get one shot at a sneak attack, and then hit or miss thats it. The rules specifically state “submarines that fired in step 2 cannot fire again during the same combat round.” Also, with the original version, in a sneak attack, the defender that is hit is immediately removed without the ability to retaliate. Is this no longer the case?

    stay tuned for more questions…


  • @MrBill13:

    The very first two I ran into had me shaking my head. Nowhere in the rules does it say that artillery can fire on Subs. If this is the case why not men and tanks. Why not have subs shoot at artillery? I’m just sayin’

    The second one was about surprise attacks. Basically Krieghund said that subs get sneak attacks every roll that a destroyer isn’t present. Doesn’t this defeat the purpose of “sneak attack”. The way I interpreted the rules was that you get one shot at a sneak attack, and then hit or miss thats it. The rules specifically state “submarines that fired in step 2 cannot fire again during the same combat round.” Also, with the original version, in a sneak attack, the defender that is hit is immediately removed without the ability to retaliate. Is this no longer the case?

    Artillery can’t hit subs, and vice-versa, because they can never be on the same battle. If artillery, tank or infantry are on a transport, they are just cargo, they’re not participating in the battle.

    A destroyer is an “anti-sub” vessel, that’s why it cancels the subs special abilities. And you do get the sneak attack every round of combat, not just the first round. The phrase you mentioned is there so that people don’t have their subs fire in the sneak attack phase and during regular combat. The sub fires once per combat round, either in the sneak attack phase, or during regular combat (if an enemy destroyer is present). Yes, if you hit and sink a vessel, it does not get to fire back during the round of combat, it is removed immediately.

    Also note that if an enemy destroyer is present at the start of the battle, but is then sunk, the sub regains it special abilities.

  • '18 '17 '16 '11 Moderator

    Submarine Combat:

    On both defense and offense a submarine may attack in the opening fire step of combat, any hits taken are removed from play and no longer fire.

    Exception: if an enemy destroyer is present, the submarine(s) no longer fire in opening fire and fire as with other units.

    The rules are attempting to state that the submarine does not get to fire in opening fire (sneak attack) AND in normal combat.  It is either one or the other.

    Artillery cannot hit a submarine.  Artillery are part of ground forces and thus, cannot attack any ship regardless of surface warship, warship or non-combat ship just as Infantry, Armor and AA Guns cannot.


  • I’ve been trying to find the post about the artillery vs subs and cannot find it again, so I’ll just assume I was hallucinating at the time.

    Seems to me most people have an IQ higher than 64 and the rules SHOULD NOT need to state that subs do not get to shoot twice each round of combat.

    But Ok, for the sake of argument, lets take the destroyer out of the equation. In the original version (some call it classic), the sub got a sneak attack on the first roll of combat and if it hit, an enemy naval piece was immedidately removed. If it missed on the first roll, from that point on it was like regular combat and any units hit got to shoot back. It was a sneak attack because the enemy was hit and not able to do anything about it.

    Remember, there are no destroyers present and answers should not include them. What I’m getting from youse guys is that ANYTIME a sub hits, a defending piece is immediately removed from the board without the ability to defend itself. Not just once, but multiple times per combat.

    In real life, a sub would get one chance to get a surprise attack on an enemy, would take it and get the heck out of there. If they hung around any ship - cruisers, battleships and even carriers had the capability to take out a sub. So this just doesn’t make any logical sense…


  • @MrBill13:

    I’ve been trying to find the post about the artillery vs subs and cannot find it again, so I’ll just assume I was hallucinating at the time.

    Seems to me most people have an IQ higher than 64 and the rules SHOULD NOT need to state that subs do not get to shoot twice each round of combat.

    You’d be surprised with the questions that we read here…

    But Ok, for the sake of argument, lets take the destroyer out of the equation. In the original version (some call it classic), the sub got a sneak attack on the first roll of combat and if it hit, an enemy naval piece was immedidately removed. If it missed on the first roll, from that point on it was like regular combat and any units hit got to shoot back. It was a sneak attack because the enemy was hit and not able to do anything about it.

    Remember, there are no destroyers present and answers should not include them. What I’m getting from youse guys is that ANYTIME a sub hits, a defending piece is immediately removed from the board without the ability to defend itself. Not just once, but multiple times per combat.

    Just like Classic. On Classic subs retained the ‘sneak attack’ ability throughout all rounds of combat as long as they were alive, not just the first round.

  • '18 '17 '16 '11 Moderator

    Right.  In old school Axis and Allies, submarines fired before all other vessels (First Attacking Submarines, then Defending Submarines chose to withdraw one sea zone or return fire) any hits were immediately removed from battle and did not fire.

    Of course, in old school you probably had a bazillion transports to soak dmg anyway, so losing a shot wasn’t so bad.


  • well then…my friends and I have been playing subs incorrectly for 25 years. I assume profanity is frowned upon here, so (expletive deleted). Always thought I had a keen, intuitive grasp of the rules.

    Your other point about “you’d be surprised by some of the questions.” Yeah, I’ve read some of the posts, plan to read many more, and agree that some of these folks need to apply just a teeny tiny little bit of thought before asking…


  • @MrBill13:

    well then…my friends and I have been playing subs incorrectly for 25 years. I assume profanity is frowned upon here, so (expletive deleted). Always thought I had a keen, intuitive grasp of the rules.

    Classic rules left a lot of things unclear, that’s why they added a booklet afterwards, and even so some things weren’t totally clear. Of course back then you didn’t had a forum where you could place questions so you were left with your own judgement (and I remember quite a few heated discussions between my friends until we clarified some rules by our own).

    Your other point about “you’d be surprised by some of the questions.” Yeah, I’ve read some of the posts, plan to read many more, and agree that some of these folks need to apply just a teeny tiny little bit of thought before asking…

    Some of them never played the game before. It’s fair that they’d be asking completely newbie questions.


  • just for the record, i agree entirely with mrbill about the way subs should realistically work.  i realize gameplay takes priority over realism in this game however.

    has anyone crafted a ‘homebrew’ balanced set of more realistic rules for sub combat? after having thought about it for a whole two minutes, what if, destroyers absent, the subs got one sneak attack that hits on a 3 and thereafter if it chose to remain in combat hits on a 1 in standard combat?  maybe they should get a sneak attack that hits on 2 for defending as well?  a 3/2 sneak attack unit and a 1/1 normal combat unit.  then make them cost 7 or 8 or maybe even 9 to balance it out.  (that’s another thing that seems fishy to me, shouldn’t a sub cost more than a destroyer anyway, realistically? really i have no idea, some WW2 navy buff will have to answer that)


  • whelp just found some information here that says a german sub cost ranged from 1 to 3.5 milion whereas a full fledged american destroyer was 10 million, and a destroyer escort (DDE) was 5.3 million.  japanese destroyers had similar cost.  american subs also range about 1 to 3.3 million.  so i guess subs were pretty cheap!?

    aanywho that’s my history contribution, and it’s possibly wrong.


  • Realistically… not a super good idea, in my opinion.

    There are SOOOOOOO many variables that come into play that digging this deep will just make the game too complex.

    The current rules mimic the “abilities” of a sub well enough, so that, apart from modifying the basic stats, there is no need to add another layer of rules. Maybe make them a 3/0 unit.


  • @ragnarok628:

    so i guess subs were pretty cheap!?

    One mistake that the Germans made during WW2 was that they only started to focus all resources on submarines after 1942. Until then the Kriegsmarine saw the surface raiders (battleships and others) as more effective and since 1936 it was building a ‘balanced fleet’ (with large battleships and aircraft carriers, along with escorts) instead of focusing on a ‘war fleet’ (pocket battleships and subs) which would be more effective in defeating the UK.

  • '10

    And by the time Donitz started getting the number of subs he wanted the allies had figured out how to defend their convoys with very few losses.


  • @coorran:

    Realistically… not a super good idea, in my opinion.

    There are SOOOOOOO many variables that come into play that digging this deep will just make the game too complex.

    The current rules mimic the “abilities” of a sub well enough, so that, apart from modifying the basic stats, there is no need to add another layer of rules. Maybe make them a 3/0 unit.

    well i dunno, the rules give the sub the right abilities but still i don’t think the gameplay that those rules promote reflect the reality of sub combat at all.  instead of being a powerful offensive force subs in A&A seem to be more likely used for fodder.

    i do agree about adding deeper mechanics would probably be bad.  what about stripping it down more though?  make them a one shot sneak attack 3/3 (i think a defending sub should be just as capable and likely to sneak attack while defending a sea zone as attacking one), and once they’ve fired their shot they auto-submerge.  destroyers would mitigate the damage by removing the sneak attack ability (thereby allowing ships hit by the sub to return fire) and then enabling the fleet to destroy the defenseless sub instead of allowing it to escape.  i think this would reflect actual use of subs as attack vessels.  they gain destructive potential, and as an offset the destroyer is a harder counter and the subs won’t really function as extra hit points any more.

    this one would probably be too much of a game changer to implement, but i’ve also thought that it’s kind of silly that when a ship moves into a sea zone occupied by a sub that the intruding ship decides whether to engage the sub or not.  in real life wouldn’t the sub, hiding under the waves, be the one to decide whether or not to engage??  absent a destroyer of course.  still, not being able to block a fleet is a disadvantage of the sub that should probably remain.

    open to feedback!  i think i’d like to try these rules sometime.

    hobbes:

    yeah, the information i was looking at said the same about focusing on U-Boats almost exclusively, although i guess whether or not that was a mistake could be open to interpretation.  by the estimate i looked at, every dollar germany spent on U-Boats forced the allies to spend 10 dollars avoiding or compensating the destruction by the submarine force.  i’m not an expert but it seems conceivable to me that this was the best way they could have spent their money in the atlantic, and if they hadn’t then the wehrmacht would have been absolutely flattened in much shorter time, ceteris paribus.  then again, they may have just been dumping money into a strategy that had stopped working that they could have spent better elsewhere.

  • '10

    I think subs are more accurately depicted in E40 and P40 with them being able to do more harm on shipping convoys. That’s what a majority of subs were used for, especially Germany’s U-boats. They weren’t used as often in naval battles, where in '42 they are used that way exclusively.


  • @Col.:

    I think subs are more accurately depicted in E40 and P40 with them being able to do more harm on shipping convoys. That’s what a majority of subs were used for, especially Germany’s U-boats. They weren’t used as often in naval battles, where in '42 they are used that way exclusively.

    I worked in advantages into the '42 game… and one set has…
    uboat interdiction… for every 2 German Subs outside sea zones 5 & 16, Subtract 1 IPC from UK & USA at collect Income Phase.
    it added a new level of play for the german subs.  UK and USA automatically lose IPC’s in the beginning and more if germany buys subs.  forces the allies to act fast to counter. 
    In that game russia had Russian Winter, UK has Radar, Japan has tokyo Express, and US had Island bases.

  • '18 '17 '16 '11 Moderator

    Yes, but in the 1942 game there were no destroyers or cruisers.  Submarines were pretty much it for usable cannon fodder (as opposed to unusable cannon fodder such as transports that could not attack, but could defend.)

    Also, keep in mind, the submarine was half the cost of a 1 hit aircraft carrier and a third of the cost of a 1 hit battleship.  Eseentially it served as both submarine and destroyer really…


  • @Cmdr:

    Yes, but in the 1942 game there were no destroyers or cruisers.

    What???  A&A Spring 1942 has cruisers and destroyers.
    Cruisers are 12 move 2, attack/defend at 3, can bombard
    Destroyers are 8 move 2, attack/defend at 2, Anti Sub boat (cancels sub special abilities)

    the later versions, Pacific and Europe (which together make the global game) have new units not in previous versions.  Tactical Bombers and Mechanized Infantry


  • i think she meant before 1942 version?  also, cruisers are 3/3 right?


  • @ragnarok628:

    i think she meant _before _1942 version?  also, cruisers are 3/3 right?

    yeah move 2, Attack/Defend 3

    yeah she must be talking about the 2nd edition 1986 board.  subs were 8, carriers were 16, battleships 24__


  • ah, i read that wrong, apologies!

    note to self: read and re-read everything carefully!

  • '18 '17 '16 '11 Moderator

    Yes, sorry.  1942 confused me since the classic game started in 1942 as well.

  • '17 '15

    Hi.How does submarine surprise attack work in situation like: 1 my submarine try to fight with Battleship and Carrier{empty}?

    Because if I do step 2 with submarine I’m not aloud to do steps 3,4,5 of the combat and for example with my first shoot I do hit one of them.They fire back at me or just one of them?Just trying to find out the bonus of the super strike.

  • '12

    Sub losses are taken off first.  This scenario should clear it up.

    Attacker with 1 sub
    Defender with 1 sub, one carrier (planes would not matter as there is no defending destroyer so they could not participate in combat)

    Attacker AND defender subs fire first.  Attacking sub hits, defending sub misses.  In this case it would make sense to remove your defending sub as it already had a chance to fire.  If you took off your carrier it would not get a defending roll as sub casualties get removed first.  The carrier rolls and gets a lucky 1 and kills the attacking sub.  Or…misses.  Now round 2, attacking sub rolls first and hits!  The carrier is removed and does not get to return fire.  If the carrier had planes you better hope its next to friendly land so the planes can land or the planes are lost as well.  That will teach you to not have a destroyer present with that carrier.

    If the defender had a destroyer and a sub and the attacker had a sub only then the defending sub fires first.  The defending destroyer cancels the attacking subs first strike ability.  The defending sub rolls first and gets a 1, the attacking sub is sunk before it even gets to fire, battle over.  If the attacker had 2 subs, then one is removed and the lone surviving sub attacks and rolls  at the same time the defending destroyer rolls.


  • Hey guys 1st post  😄

    I too have been confused by sub combat, and am looking for answers.

    First off, I now understand that subs can use a ‘sneak attack’ roll before EVERY combat roll (lets leave destroyers out of it for now), similar to how AA guns work against fighters/bombers in the sense that they kill units before combat rolls even take place, and the ability resets before each round of combat rolls. Correct?

    Now, what happens in a scenario with:

    1x friendly Sub vs. 1x enemy Sub?

    Can they see each other? Can they even attack each other? Or do they just sneak attack roll each other to death? How does this even work?

    Next scenario:

    Once a sub uses its sneak attack and hits, can it be defended against? (remember there are no desroyers for these examples)

    The post above hi-lights the situation of:

    1x friendly sub vs 1x enemy + 1x enemy aircraft carrier

    @MrMalachiCrunch:

    Attacker AND defender subs fire first.  Attacking sub hits, defending sub misses.  In this case it would make sense to remove your defending sub as it already had a chance to fire.  If you took off your carrier it would not get a defending roll as sub casualties get removed first.  The carrier rolls and gets a lucky 1 and kills the attacking sub.  Or…misses.  Now round 2, attacking sub rolls first and hits!  The carrier is removed and does not get to return fire.

    How does the defending 1x enemy sub even get to use a sneak attack? Or take a hit for that matter? There is no destroyer, so who the hell is the defending 1x sub shooting at?
    Should the scenario not end up basically being 1x friendly sub sneak attacking 1x enemy aircraft carrier? Since the subs can’t see each other?
    And since the aircraft carrier can’t see the sub, why does it get a defenders roll?

    OR is it that; once a sub uses it’s sneak attack, it now becomes visible?

    My friend once brought up a good point in this scenario:

    1x friendly sub vs 1x enemy cruiser (or any enemy ship besides a destroyer)

    His point was that if a sub sneak attacks and misses, the cruiser can not see the sub and doesn’t get to defend against it (No destroyer = no vision). So now combat resets. And the sub sneak attacks again, and misses again. Once again the cruiser can’t defend, because he can not see the sub (no destroyer present). This battle would repeat infinitely until the sub hits.
    This scenario then could be used as 1x friendly sub vs 50 enemy Battleships (exaggerating), with the sub infinite rolling against the battleships until the battleships are all destroyed.

    We then agreed on our group solution:

    The way that my group has been playing is that sneak attack is a one time thing. Similar to a battleship’s and cruiser’s bombardment roll, in the sense that it is done ONLY ONCE at the start of the battle. Once these rolls are settled, the subs are now ‘visible’ and enter regular combat for the remainder of the battle.

    Am I wrong in doing this?

    From reading this thread I have gathered:

    1- If a sub does a sneak attack roll, it does not participate in that round of combat rolls, and there for can not be used to take hits???

    2- If the sub DOES NOT use its sneak attack, it can participate in regular combat for that turn, and therefor becomes visible, and therefor can take hits???

    3- You can choose if you want to sneak attack or not. Meaning, that turn 1 you can sneak attack and stay out of the combat for the rest of the rolls. Then turn 2, you can re-enter regular combat and start taking hits???

    I’m so confused now. Please help!

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