GW36 Italian Strategy - Somalian Pirate (Crouching Benito)

  • Greetings Gentlemen,

    At long last, one of my favorite strategies. The Somalian Pirate.
    It is my favorite; not because I use it every game, but because its so ridiculous yet I used it successfully to ultimate victory.
    But first, a little background. The a core principle behind this strategy.

    - Power and Threat Projection -
    The Technique of making an Opponent Stretch

    Defending Territories.
    In Global War, when playing with Terrain features and Amphibious landings; Defenders find themselves in a stronger positions then they did in Axis & Allies. Between Mountains, Cities, Rivers, Amphibious Landings, the Defender has the advantage. Players are more cautious in attacking places like Java, Hong Kong, Gibraltar, London, Scotland
    I continuously find situations where the attack force needed has been underestimated and the though they often win, it takes a good deal longer with more casualties, often exceeding those of the defender.

    I always have particular trouble taking Java for some reason, trying to swoop up all the islands at once I hit java with less forces then I like; between the double casualties forcing me to use marines, and the mountains reducing their strength. If I get a few bad rolls, sometimes Java remains in Dutch-British hands until the end of the game.

    Likewise I often capture Scotland by air when it has only a token defense. Then airlifting infantry the next turn by air transport. Ultimately the British can take it back, or the Americans, but I can hold it for two turns and force my opponent to bleed to take it back. Sometimes I only capture it, wait a turn, and then airlift most of my guys back out. Putting him out of position or forcing the British have spent in Britain instead of South Africa, Cairo, or the Navy.

    It costs more to dislodge an opponent, and if it is not done soon and with strength, the opponent may get stronger through Militia or Reinforcements. Therefore, by preemptively garrisoning forces in good defensible areas, a player can prevent a major headache.

    TLDR: It is easier and less costly to defend territories. Since it is easier to defend it also makes it more imperative to prevent an opponent from capturing it.

    Projecting Threat

    I am a firm believer, in G40 as well as G36, of projecting threat. This means that in G40 I often do not make the classic move as Germany of attacking the British Royal Navy on turn 1. In fact, often I strengthen the German Navy to project more threat.
    This may sound stupid, I know, but my reasoning against attacking the British fleet is this:

    • If the German Navy is eliminated, it allows the British Fleet Atlantic Navy to sail to the Mediterranean and destroy the Italian Navy.

    • The German Navy can continuously threaten the British ocean builds in England. Forcing them to place power to protect themselves.

    • The German Navy can cover an amphibious raid of Britain when the timing is right, and prevent the loss of its transports.

    • The German Navy can cover an amphibious landing in the Baltic States or Leningrad, without the loss of its transports.

    • The German Navy can threaten any enemy amphibious landing to recover territory on the French Coast or Norway.

    • The German Navy, with a few additional Transports, may threaten to drop off troops anywhere in Britian. Instead of them being continuously secure, they must spend resources to protect their territories.

    I may not do any of these things, but the fact that I can, forces an opponent to spend resources in preventing it from happening, or to make any operations within range of the German Navy to be significantly stronger. This way I can force my opponent to spend resources, sometimes double my expense, to protect many potential threats.

    This is what I would call, Threat Projection.
    And the further the move the unit has, the more range its threat projection can have.

    The Human Element

    After I build one or two transports and place them in the water, my opponent searches for where the threat can reach, he quickly sums up where he would likely be attacked and places units to prevent it from occurring.
    He has neutralized my transports threat, yet I also have neutralized his power, I forced him to defend one or two likely targets of my attack and in the process, prevented an alternate use of that power somewhere else. Negation by denial of resources.

    At this point, the transports is dutifully used, or is moved and projects threat elsewhere, or wallows in place, projecting threat.

    The human element comes into play, other pressing needs further away calls attention elsewhere. Other threats are projected, power is needed, units are moved.
    A turn goes by, perhaps two, then an opponent is stretched and cannot cover everything, or perhaps they forget and a gap is left open. Then perhaps the transports move, landing troops and capturing territory.

    TLDR: Forgetting and the needs of war often reopen a gap closed in response to your projected threat. Allowing the trigger to be pulled and a raid to occur with minimal casualties.

    Its late now, and I gotta sleep a bit before I work bright and early tomorrow. So I’ll write up the actual strategy later.

  • So where is this strategy posted or is it?

  • 2022 2021 '20 '19 '18 '17 '16 '15 '14 '13 Customizer

    HBG  site

  • Do you know what the topic name/title is on the hbg site?

  • 2022 2021 '20 '19 '18 '17 '16 '15 '14 '13 Customizer

    Try Face book.

  • '17


    HBG  site

    :? 😮 :?
    HGB site has an FAQ regarding rules clarification only. No different than Avalon Hill regarding official A&A games. They both have no forum to discuss strategies or house rules.

    Jinx1527 started the topic. Life has obviously interupted. Hopefully we will see this strategy in the future.

    I can only speculate that the strategy involves the use of the italian troops, navy and port from Italian Somalia in East Africa.  Either to attack South Africa, Cairo from both sides. Or become a can opener for Japan against FEC in the Indian Ocean. Due to the nature of the first post. I would say its possibly similar to something I like to do, reinforcing this area to cause the British Empire to hesitate moving troops up from south africa or towards Japan simply by having this potential Italian threat in the background. Threat Projection: Even if Italy is still neutral. Then pounce on the weakest available target. Because you never know when Italy will declare war…

  • Greetings Gentlemen,

    Hello Hello! My apologies for the neglect. Truth be told, I’d forgotten about this topic until today, and am hence posting the second half.
    Rank Carcass is fairy spot on with his summation of what it will be.

    - The Somalian Pirate -
    Utilizing the Italian Somaliland Naval Base to Axis Advantage.

    Warfleet Power Projection.
    In Global War, Italy starts with a fairly Warfleet, perhaps the third largest after Japan and Great Britain.  The Italian Warfleet in 1936, the Riga Marina, is Italy’s greatest asset.
    But a Warfleet by itself has only a few uses.

    • Blockade Ports.

    • Escort Convoys.

    • Escort Amphibious Fleets.

    • Destroy Enemy Fleets.

    • Project Power (Threaten to do All the Above).

    Of All the Above, a Warfleet cannot capture IPP Producing Areas, it can only protect them from being captured or enable them to to be captured by other units. This is why Italy is weak. It has a strong navy, but cannot replenish losses because it cannot use its greatest asset to capture territory. Italy distinctly lacks these assets, with a small military and few naval transports; Italy needs to produce units capable of capturing IPP Generating Areas, either via Amphibious Assaults or Balkan Expeditions.

    This is Italian Priority #1.

    TLDR: A Warfleet without an Amphibious Fleet only projects threat to enemy Warfleets.

    Italian Political Advantage

    Historically in WW1, Italy was Allied to the Entente (Britain, France and Tsarist Russia). In part, it was the dissatisfaction with lack of any spoils of war that pushed the Italians into fairly shakey Fascist State. As the result of this historical fact, the designers of the game have designed the rules so that Italy can remain at peace during the whole war, straddling an unstated position between Axis and Allies, and nobody, apart from the Communists, can declare war on them unless they first declare war against any nation.

    Is Italy an Axis Nation? Historical Pact of Steel was not signed until May 1939, one can make the argument that Italy is not even an Axis nation until then, or if Italy takes Albania, or stick with the idea of Italy joining the Axis when Italy declares war on any nation.

    In our games we declared that if Italy declares war on any nation, it has gone to far and is part of the Axis.

    Does Italy need to join the Axis? Nope, I do not think its entirely necessary to do so. Most Italian War Objectives can be met without having joined in the War! Of course, if it hasn’t joined of the world war, is it part of the Axis? Probably not.

    Actually in one of our games, the Italian player dropped out, Germany took control, and for the entire duration of the war, Italy did not go to War until one of the last turns.

    So why is this considered a Political Advantage? The Allies cannot go to war against Italy unless Italy allows it to happen. The Ball is in Italy’s Court.

    Italy’s Geographical Advantage

    _In our games, we have the following house rules:

    Peacetime Naval Intent
    In Peacetime, all surface Warships must be directly off the coast of the controlling nations territory, or anywhere on the shortest route between two controlled coastal or island territories. This prevents wandering Warfleets.

    Ship Operational Range
    Ship Operation Range is equivalent to a full move away from any friendly Naval Base.
    Navy units cannot Combat Move, Attack, or Amphibious Assault outside OR of a Naval Base. Defending Navy units do not suffer penalty until the beginning of their next National Turn.

    Regardless, this has no impact on the following strategy._

    The Italians generally have a bad position geographically.

    • Starting Factories are in Europe.

    • Extended Homeland Coastlines to Defend.

    • Attack into Balkans are Mountainous.

    • Attack into France is Mountainous.

    • Attack into French Africa is Mountainous.

    • Potential Enemies control the Gates of the Mediterranean.

    • Caught between the English and the French Fleets.

    The Italians geographical advantages are often not quite even advantages.

    • Factory in Europe.

    • Potential Enemies are nearby.

    • Foothold in North Africa.

    • Foothold in East Africa.

    • Naval Base in East Africa.

    By far, the BIGGEST two natural advantages is the Italian Warfleet, the Italian Political Neutrality, and a third advantage can be created by building a threatening Amphibious Fleet.

    Those are three advantages that play into the Somalian Pirate Strategy.

    The Somalian Pirate

    Stage 1
    Its obvious now what I am working towards. Its in the title after all. But stay on the logic train.

    Italian Somaliland has a Naval Base. From there, SZ 83, an Italian Warfleet and Amphibious Fleet Power Projection, its Threat, extends to:

    • Culcutta. Worth 3 IPP and a Factory.

    • South African Union. Worth 2 IPP and a Factory.

    • Cairo, from the Red Sea. Worth 1 IPP and the Suez Canal.

    Here we get to an interesting twist. A little Diversion.

    After extensive study of the Manual, I approached the designers of the game and pointed out a paragraph at 8.1 in the Manual, including the sub-set example about the German Submarine, and I asked them. Can Italy move through the Suez Canal in Combat move, then immediately after crossing declare war on Britain and attack Cairo.

    The answer is Yes.

    Italy, from SZ 83 can reach into the Mediterranean Sea. This means the target list extends:

    • Cairo, from the Mediterranean. Worth 1 IPP and the Suez Canal.

    • Gibraltar. Worth 0 IPP but controls the Gates of Gibraltar.

    This means that from one position, Five Important territories can be threatened.
    For every single Naval Transport filled with one Marine and one Infantry (worth 15 IPP) built by Italy, Britain must build 30 IPP of Infantry to match Italian threat projection. Of course, Britain may not do so. But the Power Projection is there.

    Stage 2, Option 1.

    The Advantage of an Amphibious Fleet is its mobility. That’s why ultimately Germany has such hard time defending against a D-Day attack, USA can project its threat from Cornwall, England, all along the Atlantic-European coast. Becoming the same force multiplying factor that Italy has in the Somalian Pirate.

    Can England Counter? Yes.

    If the Riga Marina is in off the coast of Somaliland. Where is the Royal Navy?
    Most likely in Sea Zone 82, the Red Sea:

    • Protecting Cairo with their Amphibious Army.

    • Ready to Counter an attack on Cape Town and Gibraltar.

    • Ready to Prepare a Counter on Calcutta by landing troops in India.

    • Threatening Rome and Turin.

    To be able to counter, it needs as many British Transports as the Italians have or more, because of Double Casualties.

    The Riga Marina can engage an attack.
    The Riga Marina can try for Cairo and lock the Royal Navy out of the Mediterranean.
    The Riga Marina can shuttle its fleet to off the Coast of Gibraltar. Still at Peace.

    What will the Royal Navy do then?

    • It can move to inside the Mediterranean off the coast at Cairo. Leaving its troops in Cairo.

    • It can shadow the Riga Marina to off the coast of Gibraltar. Taking its troops to Gibraltar.

    The Riga Marina could move to the Red Sea and try lock the back door of the Mediterranean at Cairo.
    The Riga Marina could flip to the other side of the Straits and take Gibraltar, locking the front door to the Mediterranean.
    The Riga Marina can detach its Cruisers, Destroyers and Carriers and attack any British Fleet in Liverpool.
    The Riga Marina can commence a Special Operation*.
    The Riga Marina can move back to the coast of Italian Somaliland.

    Italy has many options, and can at the very least tie up a substantial portion of the Royal Navy in cat and mouse game.

    Stage 2, Option 2.

    Italy remains neutral, but with a threatening posture, and ready to turn if opportunity appears.

    I know this sounds really boring for the Italian player.
    What happens if Italy goes to War? Not always, but often times this:

    • Italy captures some territory.

    • Italy wins a sea battle.

    • Italy loses a sea battle.

    • Italy loses some territory.

    • Italy loses more territory.

    • Italy loses survives with very little income and very little territory.

    The product if Italian neutrality is maintained:

    • Britain spends resources preparing a counter attack against Italy.

    • Britain keeps its Royal Fleet in readiness against a Italian Attack.

    • Britain keeps collecting the resources from its territories (which it may have alternatively only lost for a couple turns).

    • Italy only collects Peacetime Income.

    • Italy can win all her National Objectives without even going to War

    The Global Impact of Italian Neutrality

    Japan benefits from the Italians neutrality. The Royal Navy in the Indian Ocean is merged with the Royal Navy of the Mediterranean, away from the Pacific Theater. A few extra divisions are built in Calcutta, the richest of Italian targets from Somaliland, but drawing troops from fortifying Hong Kong and Malay.

    Germany benefits more profoundly from Italian neutrality.
    If Italy remains neutral, the soft underbelly of Europe is not soft. It becomes a costly mess.

    Germany only needs to fortify along Europe’s Atlantic coast, with perhaps a few troops in Vichy France. The Mediterranean can virtually become a stagnant theater, reducing the amount of troops needed.
    Why is this?

    Well lets walk through it;

    • Vichy France, Marseilles, is generally avoided if Vichy France has acquired a Navy. If not, it is the one weak link.

    • Neutral Italy is not at risk of falling to the Allies.

    • Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia never needs to be attacked by Germany. Why use resources attacking a stagnant Yugoslavia when an attack into an active Soviet may add equal IPP gain and overall double it by decreasing the Soviets Income equivalently.
      The only reason Yugoslavia is attacked, is either for Historical Reasons, or because Italy needs the income.

    • Greece. Their situation is identical to Yugoslavia. Attacked for Historical Reasons, or because Italy needs the income.

    So the weakest link, the only link is Vichy France in Marseilles. This means that the amount of European Coastal Territories needed to be defended by the Axis has been cut in half.
    There are Seven territories on the Northern European Coast, Nine territories on the Southern European Coast.
    Germany does not need to gain Yugoslavian or Greek Income, but can reap the same harvest from Soviet lands. All while benefiting from not having to garrison the Soft Underbelly of Europe. As we all know, the biggest combat modifier is defending against an Amphibious Assault, by limiting where the Allies can land, it means that a defense on the coast becomes significantly easier for Germany, and the Allies are forced to make tough decisions about if they should be the ones declaring war on Greece.


    The Somalian Pirate is a Strategic Option for Italy. Named for the idea of the Riga Marina parked off the coast of Somaliland. Projecting Threat, robbing British resources from other theaters to protect against a number of potential attacks.

    It hinges on a few gamey tactics. Which by the letter of the designers is legal.

    The ambiguous nature of Italian Alliances.
    The Combat Move while still at Peace.

    Both these have been tweaked in my own custom game.

    • Italy is a member of the Allies (played with Axis intent) until it annexes Ethiopia.

    • Italy joins the Axis if it sends Lend-Lease to Nationalist Spain.

    • The British close the Suez Canal and the Straits of Gibraltar to all Italian Combat moves, regardless of who the Italian declare war upon.

    But even with all that. It is still possible to play the Somalian Pirate in our games. It is just much less effective.

    Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed. Please respond and comment if you want to read more strategic guides. They are all in my head, i just need to see if others are interested.

  • Whew, long post.

  • '17

    Well written thank you Jinx!
    Think that covers it in detail. Its boring to sit neutral as Italy. However the ability to halt allied troop and naval movement is priceless. And the other players sighs and counter builds are rather good entertainment.

    Italy is small, but used right can punch over its weight.

  • THANK YOU!!!  Been waiting for this one to be finished.  I would love to see/read more strategy guides of all kinds. I am actually beginning to collect and compile GW strategies and ideas as I used to do for A&A G40. I also enjoyed Refusing the Dragon and can’t wait until I try it out against unsuspecting friends.

  • Hehe thanks guys.
    I enjoy writing them if I know people enjoy reading them! 🙂

  • Thanks for getting back to this….very interesting.

  • @Mark:

    Thanks for getting back to this….very interesting.

    It is a pleasure Mark. I’m glad people bother reading them.
    I think the next one will not be a Strategic Play, but an analysis of a problem.
    The Problem of the Soviet Ass. 😛

  • 2022 2021 '20 '19 '18 '17

    Sorry for such a delayed response here. Was just going through some posts in the Global War thread.

    Jinx1527, I really love the way you lay your topics out! You’ve definitely thought through them and convey each greatly!

    This is an extremely interesting idea. I’m not sure I would have really considered Italy just staying Neutral. I just have one question really.

    I definitely get your point on keeping less coastal territories to have to defend. You’re right, the Mediterranean/Southern Europe is essentially blocked by Neutrality at that point. This gives Germany an advantage of only needed to defend the Atlantic coast line and fight in the East. Though one victory objective is automatically forfeited in Lebensraum (by not taking Yugoslavia and Greece), this probably works very well to have Germany troops not have to garrison a whole theater.

    But, what’s to say that, generally speaking, the Allies can’t do the same thing and just (mostly) ignore the Mediterranean and focus all efforts in northern Europe, the Pacific, etc.? By this I mean, leave token forces in the event Italy tries something, but everything else diverted elsewhere.

    I totally get your point on Power Projection. I to like to employ this tactic in games. While I have not yet had the pleasure of playing my Global War 1936 game, I’ve played a lot of AA Global 1940, and placing the Japanese fleet at the Caroline islands is a great “triple threat”. From there, you threated Sydney, Hawaii, the Philippines, and the DEI. A lot of potentially ground that can be reached to force the Allies to defend all or give one up easily.

    So while I get your point, what says the Allies need to spend a lot of time/money/forces to counter this Italian Power Projection?

    Italy only makes 10 IPP’s a turn (that said, correct me if I’m wrong. Italy’s Wartime Income is 10 IPP’s, but their Starting Income level is 7 IPP’s. (I assume they still get 10 IPP’s a turn, after the first turn, because that’s the value of their territories, correct? Or do they only get that “Wartime Income” if actually at war?)

    That’s not a lot of money to spend that the Allies need to potentially counter. This would seem to namely affect the UK, since as you point out India, South Africa, Gibraltar, and Cairo are all the reasonable spots the Italians can threaten. But what’s to stop the Allies/UK from only spending an equal amount of IPP’s to Italy’s to counter this threat? Or maybe a few IPP’s more to cover all the ground to be potentially affected?

    My guess is you’ll tell me that that’s money and units being spent on a phantom enemy in Italy that could be spent elsewhere and now is not. Which is very true, and can certainly hurt the Allies. But the same can be mostly said for the Axis as well, can’t it? That those Italian IPP’s and units just sitting stagnant are all pieces that could be used elsewhere.

    Just a though of mine, and completely curious on your response to it. I just wonder aloud if this really is a detriment to the Allied cause, or if it just keeps an area of the world quite while the rest burns, with no significant affect on the other powers.



  • '16

    Would it help in any way to expand Italy’s options much if a destroyer and cruiser were placed  in a Sea Zone adjacent to Eritrea at game start? I’ve toyed with this in a home rule set-up designed to portray a shorter, inconclusive WW1 and longer interwar period with greater arms buildup due to a shorter depression.

  • Hi,

    I fully intend to respond but i broke my hands in a vehicle accident, barring one finger.
    Due to this i was unable to attend the HBG developers meeting this weekend, i was assigned to play Germany and was going to kick butt.

    Anyways, i shall be back in a few months.

  • 2022 2021 '20 '19 '18 '17

    Ouch! Sorry to hear it! Hope the healing process is moving along alright! Definitely will be curious on your response though when you can  🙂

    Take care!

  • '17

    Listen to the doc. Hope you get well soon! Awaiting your next strategy topic, always gets a discussion started.

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