Just discovered Global '39 a few days ago

  • I’ve been visiting these forums for years now, but I finally explored the Global 1939 topic a few days ago.  After reading through everything I have to say I like it.  The designers struck a good balance between satisfying a need for historical accuracy and keeping the rules as simple as possible.  I downloaded the rules and charts, and when my wife asked me what I wanted for Christmas - well, the map (the big version) is on order.  😄  She’s going to have to hide it well to keep me from peeking.

    That said, there are a couple of changes I’ll likely make as house rules.  If someone reading this has playtested something similar and found that it ruins the game, please clue me in.

    Instead of bombers carrying airborne units, I like to use air transports.  I had been putting a blue chip under a bomber to represent them, but I ordered air transports for all the countries a few months ago (Except Japan.  I’m waiting for HBG to start allowing us to order individual pieces from the new Japanese expansion set.)

    Air transport:  Cost – 6 / Attack – 0 / Defense – 0 / Move – 4 (during combat) or 6 (during non-combat and flying empty).  Can carry either 1 infantry or 1 marine or 1 paratroop during NCM.  Can carry 1 paratroop during combat movement, and must survive AA fire before dropping it if the enemy has an AA gun in the territory.  The out-of-supply rules should keep airborne units from being used unrealistically.

    The other thing I’ll probably change is the size of the fleets relative to each other.  Overall, they are pretty close, but they might need a couple of tweaks.  I did some research, and the ships each nation actually had in service in September 1939 are below.  I counted battlecruisers the same as battleships, and combined heavy and light cruisers.  Ships undergoing maintenance or refit were counted as available.

    Battleships:  USA –15, Britain –15, France – 7, USSR – 3, Germany – 2, Japan – 10, Italy – 4, Holland – 0, ANZAC - 0

    Cruisers:  USA – 36, Britain – 64, France – 19,  USSR – 5, Germany – 11, Japan – 36, Italy – 22, Holland – 5, ANZAC – 5

    Destroyers:  USA – 127, Britain – 181, France – 78, USSR – 39, Germany – 22, Japan – 107, Italy – 73, Holland – 9, ANZAC – 6

    Subs:  USA – 58, Britain – 65, France – 81, USSR – 100+, Germany – 62, Japan – 68, Italy – 64, Holland – 24, ANZAC - 0

    Carriers:  USA – 5, Britain – 6, France – 1, USSR – 0, Germany – 0, Japan – 7, Italy – 0, Holland – 0, ANZAC - 0

    Now, to convert these to ratios that make sense for A&A, I’m thinking about the following (rounding fractions of .5 or more up):

    Battleships –1:4
    Cruisers – 1:9
    Destroyers – 1:12
    Subs – 1:30
    Carriers – 1:4

    These ratios will require a bit of adjustment, based on a few historical realities.

    First, although the Germans had a relatively low number of subs compared to other nations, they tended to be more modern, and were built to operate at longer ranges than most subs of other navies.  Also, they were geared up for sub production and had more under construction than anyone else - over 50 due to come off the assembly lines within a few months.  Therefore I’d give them a ratio of 1:20, and count their new construction, which would give them 5 subs at start.

    Second, British fleet carriers at the beginning of the war tended to carry fewer aircraft that US or Japanese fleet carriers, and a couple of the ones they had were actually light carriers.  So I’d leave the British with two, and start them off loaded with just one aircraft each.

    Third, the Soviet fleet was largely leftovers from the Tzar’s navy, and the ships hadn’t been properly maintained, much less upgraded to modern standards.  I’d downgrade their 3 old battleships to a single cruiser, giving them 2 cruisers and no battleships.

    Fourth, the 5 Dutch cruisers were actually all light cruisers, with one of them stationed in Holland and the others in the Far East.  So I’d put no Dutch navy on the European map except a single sub, and downgrade their fleet in the Pacific to be represented by a single destroyer.

    So, in A&A terms, I’d give each navy the following:

    Battleships:  USA –4, Britain –4, France – 2, USSR – 0, Germany – 1, Japan – 3, Italy – 1, Holland – 0, ANZAC - 0

    Cruisers:  USA – 4, Britain – 7, France – 2, USSR – 2, Germany – 1, Japan – 4, Italy – 2, Holland – 0, ANZAC – 1

    Destroyers:  USA – 10, Britain – 15, France – 6, USSR – 3, Germany – 2, Japan – 9, Italy – 6, Holland – 1, ANZAC – 1

    Subs:  USA – 2, Britain – 2, France – 3, USSR – 3, Germany – 5, Japan – 2, Italy – 2, Holland – 1, ANZAC - 0

    Carriers:  USA – 1, Britain – 2, France – 0, USSR – 0, Germany – 0, Japan – 2, Italy – 0, Holland – 0, ANZAC – 0

    That gives the British quite a few cruisers and destroyers, but I think that can be balanced out by having them scattered around the Empire at the start.  But the Home Fleet should still be big enough that it is not crippled on G1.

  • '18 '17 '16 '15 Customizer

    You’ll love the map. I just got it the other day, and I’m in awe of it. The detail they went into making it is just awesome. I’m currently waiting for HBG to get more supplement packs in. They have been out of them for awhile. I got a bunch of 12 sided dice. You will need some. It looks like you went to great lengths in studying which countries have which ships. That is awesome. That is one thing about variant games, you can add or take away what you want in your game, and now that HBG will be making expansion packs, just adds that many more options to the game, and that is awesome, in itself.

    Thanks for the history lesson!

    John Brown

  • It’s a neat game, that’s for sure.  The one coming out next fall should be even better.

    Just a couple questions about your post though.

    Are you certain that the ratios are appropriate?  It seems like they’re too out of proportion.  I’d say some units represent less than what you propose.  I can’t say for sure though, I have nothing to back that up with.

    Have you come across any statistics for transports?  They may be somewhat defenseless, but of course we know that they are integral part of a navy unit.

    Also, if it was possible to extrapolate these numbers and statistics to land units, would it be feasible?  Did the designers do their research in this already when making the setup?  I’m assuming so, but “assuming” sums up how much I know about this :).

  • Hi, Ben,

    Transports are a bit tougher, since purely civilian ships (even luxury cruise liners) were pressed into service during the war.  I could probably find numbers for total tonnage used during the war, but I doubt it would accurately reflect what was actually in military service during those first few months.  A lot of it, like the evacuation of Dunkerque, involved ships that were not officially contracted to military use, since there was just no time, and everyone was improvising.  Maybe there could be a Dunkerque rule, where the British can declare emergency evacuation for one turn, and all their transports in sea zones adjacent to France have double capacity for that turn?  Nah.  On second thought, that’s probably an unnecessary complication.

    Land units are also a bit more difficult, since weapons, training, command and control, communications, and tactical doctrine varied widely.  So you can’t rely on raw numbers so much.  For instance, at the beginning of the war many of the German tanks used were inferior in armor and firepower to their French or British counterparts.  But they massed them, and used the Luftwaffe to break strong defensive positions when they outran their artillery support.

    Navies, on the other hand, used fairly standardized ship designs in a lot of ways.  For the most part, a heavy cruiser would have 8” guns, a light cruiser would have 6” guns, and destroyers would have 4” or 5” guns.  Battleships and battlecruisers would have 11” – 16” guns (or 18” monstrosities on the Yamato and Musashi).  There were differences in armor thickness, speed, damage control capability, radar, fire control, and crew quality.  But, for the most part, you could still count a cruiser as a cruiser and a destroyer as a destroyer in surface engagements.

    Airpower was another matter.  At the beginning of the war, the Japanese Navy had the most proficient pilots and the Zero was the best naval fighter.  It had better maneuverability, longer range, and more firepower than anything else. They paid a price for this, however, in that the design stripped out almost everything else, like fire suppression, radios for all but the squadron commanders, and armor to protect the pilots.  This last one really came back to bite them, since to get those superior pilots their training pipeline took years to get a new flyer to his first operational squadron.  So when they started taking losses, they couldn’t replace them fast enough.  By contrast, the American training pipeline took about 6 months for basic proficiency.  And when US pilots survived a few months of combat, they were rotated back the States to train new ones, so they could share their experience.  As experienced Japanese pilots became more and more scarce, they were kept in combat until they burned out and died.  Eventually the US captured an intact Zero up in Alaska, and reverse engineered a lot of its advantages into the Hellcat, which could stand up to a Zero in a dogfight.

    As for the ratios, mine are not the same as out-of-the-box Global 1940.  The battleship ratio there seems to be mostly 1:5 instead of 1:4.  But by that standard the US Navy is severely underrepresented.  And, to a lesser extent, so is the French Navy, and even the British slightly.  I went with a 1:4 ratio since battleships tended to operate in pairs (divisions), with 2-4 divisions making up a squadron.  Going to a 1:2 ratio would probably put too many on the map, especially if you changed the cruiser and destroyer ratios accordingly.

  • I must admit I’m quite intrigued by what you know about the war and the different aspects of a nation’s military.  The statistics you came up with also interest me.  I’d be interested to know your sources, they seem quite useful.  I’m guessing Wikipedia might be one, I don’t know… but I’ll do some digging myself.

    I see your point with transports.  The ones on the board might represent ones strictly used for military purposes, or just a conglomerate of available transportation like you posted.  I can’t say either way.  I’ll say though that a guy would have to determine the number of transports on the board through gameplay and balance rather than historical reference because of all the variables, as the designers might have figured.

    If you remember the setup much (version 6.1), which I think you do, you’ll see that there’s a considerable amount of navy owned by the neutral countries.  Is there reliable info on that as well from what you learned?  I just can’t get around to the research at the moment, I’m just wondering if you happen to know.

    From what I remember of the setup myself, the number of some of the navy units you posted in the OP match what the designers wrote in.  I guess this indicates they have a lot of reading time the subject as well, to a certain extant.  Maybe we can wait to hear from their perspective on this.  More brain power is better than less, eh? lol.

  • Hi, Ben,

    Yeah, Wikipedia plays a big part in my research.  But I stumble across other websites as I’m hunting for things also.  Sometimes I find declassified official documents from the time.  I also use other games in my collection, like War in Flames and Battlewagon, where the designers did the research, and came to their own conclusions about how to fudge things.  I used to be in Military Intelligence when I was active duty army.  I spent six years at NSA (“In God we trust.  All others we monitor”)  😉  So I developed the habit of confirming intelligence from multiple sources whenever possible.  I’m still in the National Guard, actually.  But I switched my MOS to MP so I didn’t have to drive so far for drills.


    Good job on the research.  Every time I start to do it for land forces, I get distracted by all the different sources, and how they use different methods for listing things.  Yeah, with the way A&A works, where the infantry of one country is equal to the infantry of every other country (unless you are using the elite units in Global ’39), then you have to reflect differences in troop and equipment quality by using different ratios to represent one unit.

    One idea I’ve toyed with is using the same ratio for everyone’s infantry, (like 1 for every three divisions) but then reflecting the differences in firepower by assigning different ratios for artillery.  For instance, at the start maybe Germany gets an artillery unit for every 2 infantry, and France gets one for every 5 infantry, or something along those lines.  The problem there, of course, is that the French (and Russians) really really liked artillery, and it made up a bigger percentage of their overall forces.  So it would not be entirely satisfying from a historical perspective.  For the same reasons, I am reluctant to just start them off with a bunch of SS units.  Although I suppose I could just not call them SS units.  But I’d know.  I’D KNOW, and it would bug me  😄

Suggested Topics

  • 2
  • 5
  • 10
  • 15
  • 2
  • 2
  • 6
  • 5
I Will Never Grow Up Games
Axis & Allies Boardgaming Custom Painted Miniatures
Dean's Army Guys