Aletrnative Strait Rules



  • So I’ve been thinking about how straits are used in A&A, specifically in G40 but I guess this is applicable to most other variants as well, the rule that whomever holds the key territory adjacent to a strait (that is, in game, the border between two sea zones), has total control over said strait. In G40, whenever a nation holds a key territory, such as Gibraltar for sea zones 91 & 92, that strait becomes instantly inaccessible to the opposing side acting as a physical barrier that does not allow passage.

    Now as a game mechanic I have no objection to it, it’s straightforward and functional, but it isn’t very realistic. Straits aren’t the same as canals obviously and so can’t actually be closed like there is a huge chain across the sea zone borders, a la the Battle of the Blackwater. I propose that even when a strait is controlled, enemy vessels - both surface and sub surface - should be allowed to cross but with an inherent risk.

    I think it would be more engaging and entertaining to have shore defences along the straight that enemy ships have to run the risk of engaging if they brave a strait transit.

    There is some historical precedence for anyone who is interested, at the Battle of Drobak Sound, a 100 year old naval battery in the Fjords on the approach to Oslo, using 50 year old Austrian-Hungarian weaponry and manned by pensioners and raw recruits sank the Heavy Cruiser Blucher.

    I think it would be a better experience to have this sort of possible engagement in A&A. It would add an element of risk whilst still keeping certain territories such as Denmark important enough to occupy. So before I ramble on any more, I’ll bullet point this and make it clearer.

    1. Straits no longer immediately stop surface vessels from passing through, the sea zones now act like all others.

    2. If a controlling territory is occupied by at least one infantry unit, the controlling territories defences are then manned.

    3. Shore defences cannot be destroyed or bought. They are only found in territories that command straits.

    4. Ships that attempt to pass through straits in a non combat movement are attacked, shore defences are NOT utilised in combat movements and cannot be used in land battles or amphibious invasions.

    5. For every ship that passes the strait, such as from Sea Zone 112 to 113 the defender rolls 1 at 3, example: 3 Transports and 2 Destroyers = 5 rolls. Every hit is the same as in a combat movement and the hits must be distributed by the player who controls the fleet.

    6. For every sub that passes the strait, the defender rolls 1 at 1. Every hit is the same as in a combat movement and the hits must be distributed by the player who controls the fleet.

    7. The difference in the rolls is because surface ships have more defences to worry about, cannons, torpedo’s and mines, not to mention searchlights, RADAR and other range finding equipment. Subs have to deal with mines and sub nets, but are much harder to detect and so the defences are more passive, giving them a greater chance of passing unmolested.

    I thought about making attacks against ships 1 at 4, but that would make the risk of damage too great and the prospect too unappealing, as such, 1 at 2 is a bit too low to make holding a strait worth the effort. With subs, I wanted to make the risk marginal so as to keep it a viable option should running the gauntlet with ships be too much of a risk.

    It occurs to me as I write this that shore defences could be used in the English Channel, for a sort of Channel Dash recreation, but I thought that might break the game a little, but of course the option of where and how shore defences are used are up to the players.

    Again, I don’t have a problem with the current rule, I’m just looking for a way to spice up the game and leave more options on the table. I actually have another house rule in mind that this one works quite well with but that’s for another post.

    As always, comments and criticism are welcome.

    One final and only slightly unrelated note; I highly recommend watching The Kings Choice (my inspiration for this house rule) if you get the chance.


  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    @aftertaste:

    There is some historical precedence for anyone who is interested, at the Battle of Drobak Sound, a 100 year old naval battery in the Fjords on the approach to Oslo, using 50 year old Austrian-Hungarian weaponry and manned by pensioners and raw recruits sank the Heavy Cruiser Blucher.

    An even more relevant precedent, since it dates from WWII, is the Channel Dash, during which the German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen successfully sailed from Brest to Norway, right through the English Channel.  Worse still, the operation was timed so that the ships passed through the narrowest part of the Channel in broad daylight around high noon rather than (as might have been expected) in darkness at midnight.  The Times newspaper issue of 14 February 1942 commented on this humiliating event by saying, “Vice Admiral Ciliax has succeeded where the Duke of Medina Sidonia failed. Nothing more mortifying to the pride of our sea-power has happened since the seventeenth century. […] It spelled the end of the Royal Navy legend that in wartime no enemy battle fleet could pass through what we proudly call the English Channel.”



  • Chief,

    I did actually mention the Channel Dash towards the end of the post, but thanks for the addition, the battle I was talking about was also in WW2 on April 9th 1940 as part of Operation: Weserubung. The Kriegsmarine tried to slip a few cruisers and minesweepers with some embarked infantry up the Oslofjord to capture the Norwegian government and King Haakon VII but the shore cannons and torpedo tubes sank the Blucher and the remaining ships turned around, fearing mines.


  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    @aftertaste:

    the battle I was talking about was also in WW2 on April 9th 1940 as part of Operation: Weserubung. The Kriegsmarine tried to slip a few cruisers and minesweepers with some embarked infantry up the Oslofjord to capture the Norwegian government and King Haakon VII but the shore cannons and torpedo tubes sank the Blucher and the remaining ships turned around, fearing mines.

    Ah, I see.  I read your post too quickly and when I saw the “at the Battle of Drobak Sound, a 100 year old naval battery in the Fjords on the approach to Oslo, using 50 year old Austrian-Hungarian weaponry” part, I thought you were talking about a century-old engagement.  Thanks for the info.


  • 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13

    I like your no.3 idea.  The only place I had tried in a game was using fortresses on canal territories. But it was only used on Gibr and can’t think of the other land canal territory.

    There was 2 fortresses on Gibr and they would get 2 rolls each at a hit on a 6 or less using d12. For d6 game hits on 3 or less. Any ship that moved combat or non combat got to attack.

    This is just an idea you may want to think about.  The fortresses would only be placed in these territories at start of game. If territory that the forts were on would be destroyed if captured.
    As far as the other canal straights you’d have to play test.



  • I think the game should differ between canals and straits. It should be impossible to cross a canal unless you control the adjacent territory. This is a no brainer of course, since a canal is so narrow it is easy to close. The map should have 3 canals, Suez and Panama of course, and even the natural Bosborous strait in Turkey, since it is so narrow that several bridges are crossing it, and the river even runs through the city of Istanbul.

    Straits and channels are different. The English channel and the Gibraltar strait is so wide, a big coastal gun can not reach the other side. Of course you can lay a minefield, but its hard to protect the mines from being swept. During the Channel Dash, the German battleships were able to sail through because they had air cover. A possible rule could be that if you move through a bottleneck like a strait or channel, both during combat and non combat move, the other player may scramble planes to intercept you, even if you dont stop in that seazone. And of course, your fighters can escort your ships, like fighters can escort Bombers during SBR.  Another rule could be to borrow the mine rule from A&A 1914, that each ship that move into a seazone with a port, or in our case a strait or channel, must roll a minefield dice to every ship, and a 2 or less is a hit. Just an idea to keep it simple.

    The Denmark strait is a difficult case, too wide to count as a canal, but more narrow than the English Channel and Gibraltar. I would like to keep it simple, and say its a strait you can sail through, but somebody may scramble planes if you do.

    Since the sinking of Blucher in the Oslofjord was mentioned, I live not far away. If the Norwegian defense had been mobilized, with a minefield protected by coastal guns, it would be suicide and automatic sinking of every enemy ship that tried to reach Oslo. But somebody made a political decision to let the Germans inside. It would be very difficult to model rare situations and special cases like this in a simple game like A&A, without a lot of complex special rules, like the Vichy rules or special China rules. And I hate special rules that make the game a scripted simulation and historical correct reenactment, and not the free game it was ment to be.


  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    @Narvik:

    The English channel and the Gibraltar strait is so wide, a big coastal gun can not reach the other side.

    In the former case, it depends on which part of the Channel.  German heavy guns in the Calais area of occupied France fired at England on-and-off from 1940 to 1944, killing about 200 people in the Dover area.  There’s a section in the Wikipedia article on Operation Sea Lion devoted to these guns and to German coastal artillery in general in the Calais area.



  • @CWO:

    @Narvik:

    The English channel and the Gibraltar strait is so wide, a big coastal gun can not reach the other side.

    In the former case, it depends on which part of the Channel.  German heavy guns in the Calais area of occupied France fired at England on-and-off from 1940 to 1944, killing about 200 people in the Dover area.  There’s a section in the Wikipedia article on Operation Sea Lion devoted to these guns and to German coastal artillery in general in the Calais area.

    That is correct, they had one super heavy gun at Calais, and it killed a few random men by accident over a timespan of 4 years. But during D day and the Normandy invasion, hundreds of ships sailed just under the nose of that super heavy gun, and it failed to sink any ship, because it was difficult to target anything at that long range. It even took half a day to reload that gun for the next shot. I figure that gun was not a smart purchase.



  • During the Channel Dash, the German battleships were able to sail through because they had air cover. A possible rule could be that if you move through a bottleneck like a strait or channel, both during combat and non combat move, the other player may scramble planes to intercept you, even if you dont stop in that seazone. And of course, your fighters can escort your ships, like fighters can escort Bombers during SBR.  Another rule could be to borrow the mine rule from A&A 1914, that each ship that move into a seazone with a port, or in our case a strait or channel, must roll a minefield dice to every ship, and a 2 or less is a hit. Just an idea to keep it simple.

    The Denmark strait is a difficult case, too wide to count as a canal, but more narrow than the English Channel and Gibraltar. I would like to keep it simple, and say its a strait you can sail through, but somebody may scramble planes if you do.

    Narvik,

    I see what you are driving at, but I think we have different ideas for the rule I am suggesting. My main aim is just to change the strait rules by leaning towards realism but not necessarily being totally realistic. Your point about guns not being able to cover the whole of the Straits of Gibraltar or Denmark is true, but the main point of my proposed rule is just to change the way Straits are utilised in the game. I tried to combine a couple of rules and tried to keep things simple just to change how ships transit occupied straits, like the A&A14 mine rule, but with more of a streamlined approach.

    Your idea about scrambling is interesting, but you said that you want to keep things simple, it sounds like you are suggesting combining a combat and non combat move for a Channel Dash kind of operation. Was that what you meant? Or were you suggesting it could be done in either the combat or the non combat move? it seems like this is something that could be looked into, but beyond the scope of what I’m looking to achieve.

    It would be very difficult to model rare situations and special cases like this in a simple game like A&A, without a lot of complex special rules, like the Vichy rules or special China rules. And I hate special rules that make the game a scripted simulation and historical correct reenactment, and not the free game it was ment to be.

    When I mentioned Blucher, it was more of a case in point than a; ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if we could recreate such-and-such a battle…’ kind of deal. It could be argued that that is what it sounded like I was trying to say, but what I meant was more; 'Wouldn’t it be cool if we could have battles like the Battle of Drobak Sound, instead of; ‘Let’s recreate the Battle of Drobak Sound’. I realise that I may have misworded my intention in my earlier post, so thanks for pointing that out.



  • just some suggestions, but maybe the rule should say, that you can only non combat move through a narrow strait if both adjacent territories are not hostile. They can be friendly, neutral or yours, but they can not be hostile.

    Now, if one or both adjacent territories are hostile, you must combat move through that narrow strait.

    I dont know exactly how this should be played out, but I believe the owner of the hostile territory should be able to scramble fighters, and the attacker can of course use his fighters as escort, just like in the real war Channel Dash. Maybe even a minefield rule, but 2 or less as hits are too much, maybe each 1 is a hit, same as AA fire. We could even use some modified rules from A&A Guadalcanal and let Artillery units on land act as coastal guns and fire at the ships. The only drawback would be like you want to cross the English Channel, but Germany has stacked like 20 Artillery units in Normandy, or something.


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