1941 & 1942 Intro. steps to use TPs, Subs, DDs and planes: simpler interactions

  • 2017 '16


    According to Dedo (see quote below), and probably other players (I’m thinking about Toblerone77), many new players seem to have issues with rules about defenseless Transports, Submarines immune to aircrafts or not and the various combinations with Destroyer presence or absence.

    The learning curve can be hard, particularly when special interactions which deviate from regular rules and principles of this game are involved. To answer this issue of complex, inaccurate historical depiction and out of usual interactions, I tried to find different solutions since many months:
    Maybe now this can have a useful purpose…

    Wanting to help new players focus more on strategy than bogging on special rules, I would like to introduce six changes to Transport, Destroyer and Submarine combat rules to simplify things while keeping as much as possible OOB balance.



    When following the forums of 1941 and 1942.2, I counted roundabout 20 topics (that is up to 10 percent) with questions concerning submarine or transport rules in both of the forums. It seems that for new players especially these rulebook parts are difficult to understand. Wouldn’t it be appropriate to pin down these rules in general parlance and to make them sticky in the forums? Honor to the members, who has already answered the more or less countless questions concerning these topics, but in my opinion we should put an end to this and stop to reinvent the wheel by giving a clearer wording to these mechanics of the game obviously difficult to understand. What do you think?

    For my part, I revised these TPs and Subs rules to make interactions simpler between Subs, Destroyers, planes and TPs for tabletop games.
    Your comments make me thinks about an alternate rules set which can be provided in addition to the OOB rules. New players can use it as a simpler intermediary or introductory step.



    Many of the newer OOB rules since revised in fact do not help the game for the more casual player and stretch the game out to the point where; if you can actually find a gamer willing to give it a go, you must use HRs in many cases to get them even close to playing the game again.

    I absolutely agree! I think this subject - of general simplicity in Axis And Allies - is worthy of its own thread, so I will start one.

    So, following this line of thinking to help introduce new players to a less complex naval combat interaction, I suggest this changes and tweak to simplify things and improve the impressionistic WWII depiction of Submarine warfare and Anti-Sub air cover and patrol to protect Transports and Convoys.

    The second post of this thread is a transcription of OOB 1942.2 rules with corresponding changes suggested in this opening post. So, you can print them and see where these changes take place in the rulebook.

    LIST of SIX small changes to help make unit interactions more consistent from a beginner POV:

    • Transport is treated as any other surface vessel when allocating casualty: each elligible transport unit worth 1 hit and can be chosen according to owner’s choice, whether before or after a combat unit has been selected as casualty.
      OPTIONAL variant: Still worth 1 hit and Transports are taken as last casualties.

    • One or more friendly Transport units, sharing the same SZ, get a single defense die roll value @1 per combat round.

    • Submarine cannot block unescorted Transport from amphibious landing.
      Submarine and Transport cannot control SZ and can ignore each other in combat or noncombat move.

    • Submarine cannot hit, or be hit by, another submarine.

    • Destroyer does not block Submarine’s Surprise Strike.

    • But plane does not need Destroyer presence to hit unsubmerged Submarine.

    IMPACTS of these changes:

    No more defenseless Transport: TP get a combat value and can be taken as casualty the same way as other units.
    Taken last can be an optional variant which is nearer OOB rule.

    No combat value changes for Submarines or aircrafts with/without friendly or enemy Destroyer presence.
    Aircrafts act the same as Cruiser, Carrier, Battleship when making attack or defense rolls against Submarines, except Subs still cannot hit aircrafts. And Submarines keep in all combat situations same unmodified attack or defense with an increase surprise strike factor to compensate for its increased vulnerability against Aircrafts.
    No special cases or modifiers to consider when these units fight together or against each others: simpler to grasp for a new player.

    Since Submarine cannot harm enemy’s Subs, no fleet padding can rely solely on this cheapest unit. And Submarine cannot be used as cheaper Destroyer being able to return Sub’s Surprise strike fire before being taken as casualty.
    Destroyer remains a must as fodder to protect a fleet against Submarines and also because Destroyer can hit aircrafts.

    Submarine’s iconic Surprise Strike full capacity is counterbalanced by Transport illegibility as casualty and Sub inability to stop amphibious assault from lonely Transport units. This may better depict Submarines surprise attacks on convoy transports as primary targets and escorting Corvettes and Destroyers’ reaction strikes on pinned down Submarines.

    Legend on unit capacities:
    Unit type        Cost
    Combat values
    Special abilities

    Attack 2 first strike*
    Defense 1 first strike*
    Move 2
    Surprise strike: *Permanent first strike Attack 2 and Defense 1 against all surface vessels only, including Destroyers.
    Submerge (instead of firing in Surprise strike phase)
    Stealth Move
    Unsubmerged Submarine unit can be hit by planes without any Destroyer (or Anti-Sub Vessel) presence.
    Cannot hit planes nor submarines.
    Cannot control SZ and can be ignored by other warship and Transport units.

    Attack 2
    Defense 2
    Move 2
    Anti-Sub Vessel: One Destroyer unit blocks all Submarine’s Submerge and Stealth move.
    Does not block Submarine’s Surprise Strike.

    Attack 0
    Defense 1* per TPs group
    Hit value: 1 Worth 1 hit and can be chosen as casualty anytime, same as warships.
    Move 2
    *Special Convoy Escort Defense: One single defense @1, each combat round for all friendly transports sharing SZ.
    Cannot control SZ and can be ignored by other warship units.
    Non-escorted Transport can make amphibious landing in Submarines infested SZ, (same rule as OOB first edition) so Transport can ignore Submarine during Combat and Non-Combat phases, same as warships.

    OPTIONAL Variant: Taken as last casualty, once all other illegible units has been chosen as casualty.


    Question 1: Do you believe that such units values can be simpler (less exemptional rules) and be used instead of OOB rules to make some baby steps toward a full OOB rules implementation?

    Question 2: Is it still somewhat balanced in itself?

    Question 3: Do you think that this 1 hit Transport with a small combat value is an easier rule to grasp for beginner?

    Question 4: Do you think these six changes really improve WWII depiction of Submarine warfare and Anti-Sub air patrol to protect Transports and Convoys?

    Here is my starting point for this kind of HR group defense for Transports:


    This would be my ideal for transports. Whether to keep them at 7 ipcs under such a scheme or return them to the original value of 8 ipcs is debatable. Generally it was the ability to stack transports and rely on them to mass defend with the 1s and absorb as fodder by increasing the number of rounds in a given combat that made them overpowered. Also problematic with the old transport was the ability to use them as fodder on attacks, even without an attack value themselves, just as a way of increasing the number.

    The proposed values above don’t open themselves up to the same problems, be retaining the “taken last” as casualties concept introduced in the more recent games. It returns them to a chance on a single hit though, so that no transports can be send to be “defenseless.”

    The only real issue I could think of is the lone fighter vs lone transport. Or narrow battles in the opening round between a single unit vs a single transport (or transport group the way Baron is thinking about it.) This was an old gripe with transports at the previous defense value of 1, where one transport could totally jack up the opening round if it got lucky, but this has much more to do with the first round unit set up OOB than anything else.

    In general I favor most of the ideas you have proposed regarding new unit rosters with adjusted values or costs for balance, but the challenge is always getting players to adopt them. Most people I play with like to stick to the printed materials, because it has that gloss of officiality when it’s drawn right on the mapboard, or the combat strip, or written down in the manual. Even just having to fix the set up cards to reflect the correct Starting incomes for each nation is annoying. So when it comes to a full scale overhaul of the unit roster, I can see why some would be reluctant. That said, just focusing on a single unit, it is sometimes easier to persuade people to come around to your way of thinking. The transport unit is probably the most important in the game after infantry, it’s the most controversial (at least in its current iteration) and its cost and values so key to the Allies and Japan, and their interactions across are so far reaching that changing them is certain to have an impact on balance.

    I think if you played 42.2 OOB with no bid, but used the transport values like the ones just proposed, perhaps at an increased cost at 8 (going old school) the undeniable advantage would be to UK/USA since they typically buy the most transports. But there are also situations where Japan or even Germany late game, might benefit too.

    It would be hard to say how the balance would shake down, but as I suspect Allies would have the most to gain, perhaps that single change (to the transport) would be enough to balance the game by sides.
    Or it might throw the balance in favor of Allies rather than Axis, but probably more narrowly than the current situation.

    Consider that there are several key opening battles where transport defense comes into play.

    US/UK starting transports in the Atlantic vs German Uboats

    UK battleship and transports off the home island.

    German Baltic transport, attacked by RAF.

    The Japanese transport in sz61.

    US transport at Pearl.

    British transports in the south Pacific and Indian Ocean.

    Perhaps it is not necessary to return the cost to 8? But instead keep them at 7 and just adjust the defense value to group and retain the taken last to prevent fodder and test from there.

    I imagine most of this could be done pretty simply in tripleA, the only question whether you could assign a single group defense value for all units of a given type (without a force multiplier). Also if each transport must be selected as a casualty independently, that will increase the number of combat rounds in naval battles and make the odds on a rolling a 1 more likely. Not sure, though it could be a way to balance the board by sides.

    I think I’d be more likely to get support from my playgroup if it involved a single unit ability tweak (to a unit that is already kind of weird, the transport!) than a full roster adjustment. Though I can see the benefits of the line up you are trying to work on.

    I think there is no such a thing like “US transport at Pearl”.

    I play-tested Transport A0 1D@1/group, 1 hit Cost 8 IPCs, taken last.

    It allows to kick out defenseless and bring some unpredictable results in combat with Transport.
    It works and is not a very hard game changer toward Allies, such as a Classic transport A0 D1 C8 taken last (play-tested too) can be.
    Germany have an harder time dealing with this Classic taken last than with the previous above.

    As you said, the first one Transport whether at 7 or 8 IPCs is easier to implement with other players and didn’t affect the overall strategy.
    Of course, it helps a little more Allies but at the start, it makes things a little riskier with Baltic and Chinese Sea Transports.
    It increase the satisfaction without perceptibly changing the balance: dices and strategy are more relevant.
    So, as an isolated HR, it solve most issues of Defenseless transport without radically changing the game.

    The way of playing with them will not change, only that the trannys destruction festival is no more and you have some additional rounds of fire before saying goodbye to them.
    Even the Classic taken last would require some tactical adjustment (and even strategical for the witty player), because a massive number of “1” can be dangerous.
    A single additionnal roll @1 with other combat units can’t change radically the units interactions.
    This is many people want from an HR I believe.
    And for this principle of minimum change, I would simply add: keep it at 7 IPCs.
    No one will be bother when looking at charts and other players help.

    Usually, when something can affect opening, I tend to make some simulations on the BattleCalc to see if an additional unit can somehow recover the initial Battlecalc odds. For instance, with Classic taken last, I added a German sub in the Atlantic (because US and UK gets 2 transports each able to defend @1 and providing an additional 4 hits).
    With Transport A0 1D@1/group, 1 hit, Cost 8 IPCs, taken last, I didn’t change the initial set-up.
    I wasn’t as good with AACalc at that time.

    If anyone wish to test some battle, you have to know that AACalc 1942 config can gives a 1 hit value to attacking or defending transport, it needs only to change the casualty order of transport before Carrier (and all others unit should be place before them both).
    I always put X defending transports on the attacker side and replace 1 TP with 1 Carrier A1 D2.
    (You can also do it on the defender side, using 1 sub but you must be certain that there is many destroyers on the other side to prevent surprise strike.)
    X Transports + 1 Carrier vs whatever units you want.
    It simulates any group of transports rolling a single defense @1 and loosing 1 transport per enemy’s hit.

  • 2017 '16

    Here below, the changes (bolded or strike-through) on the 1942.2 OOB rules which, I believe, will simplify units interactions:

    A&A 1942 Second Edition, p. 31:
    Cost: 7
    Attack: 0
    Defense: 0 1*
    Move: 2
    Hit value: 1
    Escort Convoy Defense: * single roll @1 each combat round for any number of friendly Transports present in SZ.

    Unit Characteristics
    No Combat Value Non warship combat unit: Even though a transport can attack or defend, either alone or with other units, it has very little combat value of 0. This means that a transport cannot fire in the attacking unit’s or the defending unit’s fire steps but can roll in defending unit’s fire step a single die @1 per combat round for all friendly Transports in an embattled Sea-Zone. Transports may not attack without being accompanied by at least one unit with an attack value, unless they are conducting an amphibious assault from a friendly sea zone that is free of enemy submarines. This lack of an effective combat capability also allows enemy ships to ignore the presence of transports.

    Doesn’t Block Enemy Movement:
    Any sea zone that contains only enemy transports doesn’t stop the movement of a sea unit. Air or sea units (other than transports) ending their combat movement in a sea zone containing only enemy transports automatically destroy can attack those transports (unless they are ignoring them to support an amphibious assault instead). This counts as a sea combat for those sea units. Sea units can also end their noncombat movement in a sea zone containing only enemy transports.

    Chosen Last: Owner’s choice of casualty order:
    Transports can only be chosen as a casualty anytime, the same way as if there are no other eligible units. Normally but not necessarily this will be possible, but it can also occur in mandatory way under special circumstances. For example, submarines attacking surviving transports and planes, in a given combat round, will hit transports because they can never hit planes. fighters attacking transports and submarines will hit the transports because they cannot hit the submarines without a friendly destroyer present.

    OPTIONAL (nearer OOB, both mechanic and balance):
    Chosen Last:
    Transports can only be chosen as a casualty if there are no other eligible units. Normally this will occur when only transports are left, but it can also occur under other circumstances. For example, submarines attacking surviving transports and planes, in a given combat round, will hit transports because they can never hit planes. fighters attacking transports and submarines will hit the transports because they cannot hit the submarines without a friendly destroyer present.

    Carry Land Units:
    A transport can carry land units belonging to you or to friendly powers. Its capacity is any one land unit, plus one additional infantry. Thus, a full transport may carry either two infantry or a tank, an artillery, or an antiaircraft artillery unit plus an infantry. A transport cannot carry an industrial complex. Land units on a transport are cargo; they cannot attack or defend while at sea and are destroyed if their transport is destroyed.

    Loading and Offloading:
    A transport can load cargo from one or two territories in or adjacent to friendly sea zones that it occupies before, during, and after it moves. A transport can pick up cargo, move one sea zone, pick up more cargo, move one more sea zone, and offload the cargo at the end of its movement. It can also remain at sea with the cargo still aboard (but only if the cargo remaining aboard was loaded in a previous turn, was loaded this turn in the Noncombat Move phase, or was loaded this turn for an amphibious assault from which the transport retreated).

    Loading onto and/or offloading from a transport counts as a land units entire move; it can’t move before loading or after offloading. Place the land units alongside the transport in the sea zone. If the transport moves in the Noncombat Move phase, any number of units aboard can offload into a single friendly territory.

    Land units belonging to friendly powers must load on their controller’s turn, be carried on your turn, and offload on a later turn of their controller. This is true even if the transport remains in the same sea zone.

    Whenever a transport offloads, it cannot move again that turn. If a transport retreats, it cannot offload that turn. A transport cannot offload in two territories during a single turn, nor can it offload cargo onto another transport. A transport cannot load or offload while in a hostile sea zone. Remember that hostile sea zones contain enemy units, but that for purposes of determining the status of a sea zone, submarines and transports are ignored.

    A transport can load and offload units without moving from the friendly sea zone it is in (this is known as “bridging”). Each such transport is still limited to its cargo capacity. It can offload in only one territory, and once it offloads, it cannot move, load, or offload again that turn.

    Amphibious Assaults:
    A transport can take part in an amphibious assault step of the Conduct Combat phase. That is the only time a transport can offload into a hostile territory.
    During an amphibious assault, a transport must either offload all units that were loaded during the Combat Move phase or retreat during sea combat. It can also offload any number of units owned by the transports power that were already on board at the start of the turn.

    A&A 1942 Second Edition, p. 13:


    If a transport encounters hostile surface warships (not enemy submarines and/or transports) AFTER it begins to move (not counting the sea zone it started in), its movement for that turn ends, and it must stop there and conduct sea combat.

    A transport can load units while in any friendly sea zone along its route, including the sea zone it started in. If a transport loads land units during the Combat Move phase, it must offload those units to attack a hostile territory as part of an amphibious assault during the Conduct Combat phase, or it must retreat during the sea combat step of the amphibious assault sequence while attempting to do so. A transport that is part of an amphibious assault must end its movement in a friendly sea zone (or one that could become friendly as result of sea combat) from which it can conduct the assault. However, a A transport is not allowed to offload land units for an amphibious assault in a sea zone containing one or more ignored enemy submarines unless at least one warship belonging to the attacking power is also present in the sea zone at the end of the Combat Move phase.

    Any land units aboard a transport are considered cargo until they offload. Cargo cannot take part in sea combat and is destroyed if the transport is destroyed.

    A&A 1942 Second Edition, p. 29:

    Cost: 8
    Attack: 2
    Defense: 2
    Move: 2

    Unit Characteristics
    Anti-sub Vessel:
    Destroyers are specially equipped for anti-submarine warfare. As a result, they have the capability of cancelling many of the unit characteristics of enemy submarines.

    A destroyer cancels the Treat Hostile Sea Zones as Friendly unit characteristic of any single enemy submarine that moves into the sea zone with it. This means that the submarine must immediately end its movement, whether combat or noncombat, upon entering the sea zone. If a submarine ends its combat movement in a sea zone with an enemy destroyer, combat will result.

    If a destroyer is in a battle, it cancels the following unit characteristics of all enemy submarines in that battle: Surprise Strike, Submersible., and Cannot Be Hit By Air Units. Note that destroyers belonging to a power friendly to the attacker that happen to be in the same sea zone as the battle do not actually participate in it; therefore, they do not cancel any of these characteristics of defending submarines.

    A&A 1942 Second Edition, p. 30:

    Cost: 6
    Attack: 2 Surprise strike
    Defense: 1 Surprise strike
    Move: 2

    Unit Characteristics
    Submarines have several unit characteristics. Most of them are either cancelled or stopped by the presence of an enemy destroyer.

    Surprise Strike:
    Both attacking and defending submarines can make a Surprise Strike by firing before any other units fire in a sea battle. As detailed in step 2 of the General Combat sequence (pg. 16), submarines make their rolls before any other units~~, unless an enemy destroyer is present~~. All Submarine units keep their Surprise Strike in all circumstances. If no submarine from neither side is eligible for a Surprise Strike, there is no step 2. Players move directly to step 3 of the General Combat sequence.

    A submarine has the option of submerging. It can do this anytime it would otherwise make a Surprise Strike.
    The decision is made before any dice are rolled by either side (the attacker decides first) and takes effect immediately. When a submarine submerges, it is immediately removed from the battle strip and placed back on the map. However, a submarine cannot submerge if an enemy destroyer is present in the battle.

    Treat Hostile Sea Zones as Friendly:
    A submarine can move through a sea zone that contains enemy units, either in combat or noncombat movement. However, if a submarine enters a sea zone containing an enemy destroyer, it must end its movement there. If it ends its combat move in a hostile sea zone, combat will occur.

    Does Not Block Enemy Movement:
    The “stealth” ability of submarines also allows enemy ships to ignore their presence.
    Any sea zone that contains only enemy submarines does not stop the movement of a sea unit. Sea units ending their combat movement in a sea zone containing only enemy submarines may choose to attack them or not. Sea units can also end their noncombat movement in a sea zone containing only enemy submarines.

    Cannot Hit Air Units or Submarine Units:
    When attacking or defending, submarines cannot hit air units nor other submarine units.

    Cannot Be Hit by Air Units:
    When attacking or defending, hits scored by air units cannot be assigned to submarines unless there is a destroyer that is friendly to the air units in the battle.

    A&A 1942 Second Edition, p. 26:


    Air units can hit submarines only if a friendly destroyer is in the battle. Whenever a round of combat starts and there is no enemy destroyer, submarines cannot be hit by air units.

  • I’ll be harsh but honest with you BM: I always have trouble reading your posts. Maybe because it seems like you’re talking to yourself.

    For example, you just made 3 very large posts. I’ll bet a lot of time and thinking went into this. And yet, I have no idea what you want to achieve with this thread.

    There’s a 2-line introduction (!!) and then there are 3 questions. My first thinking is that you want to ask other people these questions, but you’re answering them yourself. At least, you’re answering question 2, which seems arbitratry. So, where are these questions coming from? Why are you answering them? What am I, as a reader, supposed to do with this lengthy article? What happens to questions 1 and 3?

    If I can give you some tip, it would be the following. Make sure you take your time explaining the process of your post. What is your ultimate goal of this thread; what do you ask of your fellow forum members? For example, I can imagine you want feedback on what you posted and if more than 20 people or whatever endorse it, you ask a moderator to have the alternative ruleset stickied. Because right now, I feel like this is a lot of work that will just be on page 10 of the House Rule Forum in about a year.

  • 2017 '16

    Thanks for your honest comment Ozymandiac,
    is the opening post easier to read and understand now?
    Same information, different order.
    I tried as much as possible to be clear in this new edited version.
    Even the second post of this thread is just a more formalized way inspired by OOB 1942.2 written rules, which say same things than first opening post but with all words of official rules.

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