I feel you. I remember the old option from Classic, battleships repair at the beginning of the turn instead of the end, and it does feel as though “damaging” a battleship OOB is rather pointless with repair at the end of the turn in 1942.2. You have to damage and kill the battleship in one go, to give that first hit any real significance. I almost never buy battleships, so the rule could only have an effect on the starting battleships for me.
At 20 ipcs, the Battleship is just a pretty sorry unit in 1942.2. I can’t think of any reason to buy one, unless you’re dealing with a production limitation. 2 destroyers with 4 ipcs saved is superior/cheaper in most situations, even 1 cruiser and 1 destroyer for the same cost is better. The only time I consider a battleship purchase, is when production is down to a single unit and you need every possible pip for defense.
For example say you have an American factory at Borneo, and your fleet in sz 47 is under serious threat of Japanese attack. You need to back it up, but you only have 4 production on the sea zone. Say you have 44 ipcs to spend, and you already have carriers and fighters at the core of your fleet (no additional fighters at the ready/in range to make the purchase of a carrier worthwhile), but you still need as much fodder as possible to deter an attack by Japan. In this rare instance it might be advisable to buy 3 destroyers and 1 battleship. Because it gets you the max possible hitpoints to defense ratio for the money, into sz 47, where you can only place four units tops.
That’s 5 hitpoints. 3 fodder destroyers, the battleship absorption, and the battleship’s second hit. 10 cumulative defense points, but 5 total hitpoints! Way better than 4, when you’re in dire straits.
The alternative max buy for 44 ipcs, of 1 destroyer and 3 cruisers, would yield you 11 cumulative defense points (slightly better for the cost), but only 4 total hitpoints.
Aside from a situation like that, where you are under immediate threat of attack and need to max your hitpoints out of a factory with very limited production, there is no compelling reason to buy a battleship in my view. Unless you just want to showboat haha.
If production wasn’t a factor, then for 44 ipcs, you’re better off just buying 5 destroyers and saving 4 ipcs.
This gives you the exact same cumulative defense points at 10 and the same 5 hitpoints, but unlike the 3 dd 1 battleship buy, the 5 destroyer buy gets you 5 potential defensive hits in the first round of combat instead of just 4, for less total cost.
Or you could spend every IPC and get 4 destroyers and 1 cruiser. This nets you 11 cumulative defense points, and still gives you 5 hitpoints. But again unlike the battleship buy, all those units get to roll in the first round of combat.
So overall, the ability of the battleship to absorb hits its pretty weak, even as it stands OOB. The unit is just more expensive than its worth under most purchasing situations, unless production limitations are a factor. The battleship spam is a poor investment, it is usually outmatched by the enemy who buys 2 fighters to counter it. Or matched by the enemy who buys 2 destroyers for less total cost, the exact same defense (in the first round of combat) but more potential hits. I would see this HR as further discouraging the purchase of battleships, but that isn’t a huge problem for me. It still wouldn’t change the calculus, in those very rare instances where I would consider a BB purchase, because those instances only come up with restricted production, and only on defense, and typically with a focus only on the first round of combat. I think you could make the battleship cheaper if you wanted to see more of them. I think all ships could be made cheaper and the basic game would still work. But OOB, I don’t see a good reason to buy Battleships. Absent restricted production, destroyers are better for defense and hitpoints/fodder. If bombardment and amphibious trading is the plan, then the cruiser is better for the cost than the battleship.
The extra fodder hit in a restricted production situation is the only thing the battleship has going for it. Trying to squeeze an extra fodder hitpoint out of a space (usually for defense vs an airstrike), perhaps gives the battleship a rare advantage over the other naval or air units you could buy for the same cost, but beyond that the unit is pretty underpowered for 20 ipcs.