Taranto is a MUST for UK. It’s not an option.
This is probably the easiest disagreement I have ever done. Taranto is not the UK’s strongest move in the Med. The strongest move is to deploy blockers to hold Italy off for one round, retreat the carrier to the Red Sea, build an IC in Egypt, and then on round two move back into the Med with a full naval build. You reinforce the carrier in the Red Sea with a fighter and possibly tactical bomber from India, the UK destroyer from sea zone 71, and on (F1) the French destroyer from sea zone 72. You don’t have to kill the Italians in Tobruk or Ethiopia – they can be killed at your leisure later.
The fleet in the Red Sea is completely safe from air attack on I1 and G2 – only the lone Italian strategic bomber can make it. The only way Italy can take Egypt is by sacrificing the Luftwaffe to destroy the UK fleet. Otherwise, Italy should give up on Africa and start building ground troops. On UK3, the Italian fleet is doomed and the UK hasn’t actually lost all its starting Med fleet.
Yes, losing the fighter and tactical bomber from India weakens it. However, you can NEVER save India from a determined Japanese assault, so the loss of air power is minimal. The loss of India does not spell doom for the Allies. Furthermore, the loss of the Mediterranean and the Middle East does.
This is even stronger with an open bid for the Allies placed partially in the Med – you could leave the fighter in India. You can pull Pacific naval assets in as well if you like – the destroyer and cruiser from India can stack with your fleet on UK2 if you like.
So yes, Taranto IS an option for the UK – you can give Italy an NO for one round on I1 (less if Italy plays conservative and doesn’t try to clear the Med on I1) and save your valuable fleet assets for later in the game, or you can give Italy the NO for multiple rounds by running Taranto and then let the Luftwaffe nuke it on G2 for minimal losses.
Sorry, but… no!
What many players tend to forget (also in those endless discussions about how to play Nation X until turn 4 or 5 or so):
A&A is not chess where a position can be very precisely anticipated. Every position after G1 is unique,m especially in vanilla mode where the bid brought further options in.
So there is definitely NO way to say Taranto is a must or not, it clearly depends on what happened until UK1, especially in case UK scrambles in G1 (which most players do WAY to rarely. Any German attack with less then 90% odds at 110 or 111 is usually an invitation for UK to scramble
I personally like both, Taranto or stacking fleet in 92 with no Taranto, however hiding fleet in the red sea is objectively bad (especially as Italy can cut them off then through Suez), so is the common overated middle east play. UK must bother Germany from 110. Total middle east and med focus plays into the German hands.
So in a nutshell: The taranto or not discussion should start with a particular position after J1. Before that it simply depends on what happened before.