A&A Global 1940 Essays: The Kriegsmarine: German Naval Strategy (Germany)

  • NOTE: I don’t really recommend a German naval strategy, you’d be better off aiming for Moscow. The only time Germany should go all out on naval purchases is for Sealion- which is a risky proposition as well.

    In Axis and Allies Global 1940, Germany has three major naval commitments. While none of them are essential, they can open and close doors for Germany, and create more problems for them later on. These are the battles with the UK navy in the Channel and North Sea, the Battle of the Atlantic, and supporting the Italians in the Mediterranean Sea.

    The English Channel/North Sea
    Note: In this section, I will not cover Operation Sealion, the German Amphibious Attack on the UK. That will be left for a future essay. However, many of the hints in this section can be useful if planning a Sealion assault. At the start of the game, German sea power in the North Sea is quite small. They have a battleship in sea zone (sz) 113, and a cruiser in sz114. These two ships are within range of two British destroyers, two British cruisers, and two British battleships. In addition, if the Germans attack sea zone 111 (the only British sea zone their cruiser can reach on G1), a fighter can scramble from Scotland. So, Germany’s best battle in the North Sea on G1 consists of 1 German battleship vs. 1 British battleship, 1 British cruiser, 1 British destroyer, and 1 British fighter. Not good odds for Germany. And a British attack on sz113- even with scrambled German air units-will most likely end in a British victory. So, what’s Germany to do? Throw in some air support and take the offensive on G1. Germany starts the game with 3 tactical bombers and 2 fighters in Western Germany. Due to a combined arms rule, two of the tactical bombers attack at 4. In addition, Germany has another tactical bomber and 2 strategic bombers in Germany. Lastly, Germany can avoid the troublesome AA gun in Paris by sending its Holland/Belgium fighter to assist in the battle. If Germany likes, it can add its fighter in Norway, but unless planning for Sealion, Germany should use that fighter to prop up Finland on G2. Now, a German attack on sz111 consists of, at the minimum, 1 German battleship, 2 German strategic bombers, 4 German tactical bombers, and 3 German fighters facing 1 British battleship, 1 British cruiser, 1 British destroyer, and 1 British fighter. The odds are now clearly in Germany’s favor. If planning for Operation Barbarossa (the German attack on the Soviet Union), all air units should return to their original territories in preparation for a non-combat movement east. However, if planning for Operation Sea Lion, then all air units should land in Holland/Belgium. Either way, without spending an I.P.C. on purchases, you’ve just eliminated a fairly large portion of the British fleet in home waters. On UK1, however, your fleet will likely be destroyed. This is actually not a disaster, unless you’re planning for Sealion. With regards to naval strategy around the UK, what moves should Germany make, and what should Germany buy on G2?

    #1: Occupy Normandy/Bordeaux on G1. This, coupled with Western Germany, makes for two I.C.s right next to British home waters.

    #2: Using units from Greater Southern Germany, occupy Southern France on G1. This I.C. is largely out of range of Allied strategic bombers, and so can be used to safely build naval units (and transports, if planning for Sealion). Plus, it makes a convenient place to build ships to help the Italians in the Mediterranean!

    #3: If your goal is just to weaken the British Fleet, not to invade England, buy two cruisers in Western Germany. If you had heavy air losses in sz111, buy a tactical bomber as well.

    However, even if the British fleet is weakened and contained, the Germans still have another naval battle to fight: the Battle of the Atlantic.

    The Battle of the Atlantic
    The Battle of the Atlantic, like the German battles in the North Sea and English Channel, is seemingly impossible for Germany to win- on the surface. However, unlike the North Sea, the Germans have no air support whatsoever in the Atlantic. Unfortunately for the Germans, long-term victory in the Battle of the Atlantic is not really possible, barring incredible dice-rolls. There are a couple of reasons for this. One, as mentioned above, the Germans have no air support. Two, the German U-boats are spread out, and cannot support each other as effectively as the Germans in the North Sea, with one exception. Three, submarines defend on a 1. In spite of these problems, an effective strategy in the Battle of the Atlantic, coupled with a little luck, can delay Allied shipments of troops to Europe and Africa by at least three rounds. For a start, the U-boats face two major threats: the destroyers in sz106 and sz109. Thankfully for Germany, the sz106 destroyer can usually be sunk on G1, along with the Canadian transport. Germany can throw its sz108, 117, and 118 subs at the destroyer. With the transport and destroyer sunk, Britain is at a disadvantage for several reasons.

    #1: During its Collect Income phase, Germany can convoy-raid it for up to 3 IPCs (1 from New Brunswick/Nova Scotia, 2 from Quebec)

    #2: Britain has an economy of 28 IPCs, and just replacing the transport and destroyer will bring it down to 13.

    #3: The Canadian forces will not be deployed for at least three rounds, on UK3.

    Another advantage that Germany has by having subs in sz106 is that on G4, when the United States is at war, but has not deployed troops yet, the subs can go into sz101 and sink any US transports. This will only work if the US has focused its IPCs on the Pacific, which is quite likely. Even if you only destroy the sz101 cruiser (and perhaps a destroyer as well), other subs can finish off the exposed transports.

    It’s quite difficult to purchase for the Battle of the Atlantic, seeing as how there are no nearby Axis ICs, but here are some hints.

    #1: On G1, occupy Southern France and/or Normandy/Bordeaux.

    #2: Buy a submarine every two turns. On G2, if you’re really committed to the Battle of the Atlantic, use your 19 IPC bonus from France to buy 3 subs

    Germany should spread subs out to cover Norway, Normandy/Bordeaux, Morocco, French West Africa, and French Equatorial Africa.

    The Mediterranean Sea

    Although this isn’t a necessary battle, it’s definitely a helpful one, and certainly a prerequisite to helping the Italians in North Africa. In this section, I won’t be talking about in-depth German-Italian cooperation, that’s material for a future essay. The Italian and Allied navies in the Med. Sea are fairly well matched, however, the Allies typically squeak through to victory, cutting the Italians off from Africa. This is good news for the German player interested in the Med, as it means that they only need to commit a few ships to the Med, and can really take as much or as little part here as the German player chooses- making this just about the only situation where Germany can choose to not commit to a front!    If Germany is interested in helping out in the Med, then they should occupy either Southern France or Yugoslavia. In the case of Yugoslavia, the Germans should build an industrial complex there on G2. The Med. should not, not, repeat not, be a serious IPC commitment on Germany’s part. A few destroyers on G3 should be more than sufficient. If Germany is serious about helping the Italians, they can land some of their Western Germany tactical bombers/fighters in Southern Italy, and then on G2 non-combat them into Libya or Tobruk.

    In conclusion, Germany has three major naval battles it can fight, although none of them will decide the game. Next time, AxisAndAllies1940 will discuss the extension of one of these naval battles- Operation Sealion, the Invasion of England.

  • Hi,

    Maybe before posting your strategies you should know the rules first.
    First off: convoy raids.

    These happen when the affected player collects income.
    So for you to be able to convoy the uk the german ships must survive the combat turn of the Uk.
    Only after Uks combat move is done will the uk collect income and the opposing player can dice roll for convoy damage. This ipc is then lost and not collected by anyone.

    Its also common practice to attack both fleets with subs, planes and the battleship.

    The german cruiser cannot reach the uk navy as there is no naval base in berlin.

    Best regards

  • For the Kreigsmarine, it’s really hard to try to argue building a surface fleet unless you’re going for Sea Lion. Even the Afrika Korp idea I am not too found of.

  • I don’t mean to sound like a dick, take it as constructive criticism:

    I really feel like you have played only with people from your own group, and not at all online. This is because you make some unorthodox decisions. Nothing wrong with that (great, in fact) but it helps if you provide arguments for those decisions. I couldn’t make sense of some of them, I’ve listed 3 below as an example.

    1. Germany should spread subs out to cover Norway, Normandy/Bordeaux, Morocco, French West Africa, and French Equatorial Africa.” It sounds like a large investment (30 IPCs) that doesn’t achieve that much. Subs give a threat of attack, but bombers give threat of attack as well + can be used against USSR. So why go for subs instead of bombers?

    2. buy two cruisers in Western Germany” sounds wasteful. 2 cruisers = 24 IPCs = 3 destroyers. Your purchase buys 2 units / 6 attack / 6 defense / +bombard. Destroyers give an extra unit with the same attack / defense values. You lose the bombard but that’s usually worth it. So why go for cruisers instead of destroyers?

    3. Another advantage that Germany has by having subs in sz106 is that on G4, when the United States is at war, but has not deployed troops yet, the subs can go into sz101 and sink any US transports. This will only work if the US has focused its IPCs on the Pacific, which is quite likely.” That scenario is very unlikely, a buy of 1 destroyer would do it since there’s already 1 fighter there ready to scramble. Not to mention that a turn 4 DOW on USA is pretty unorthodox these days. So why assume the USA would spend 0 IPCs in the Atlantic for 3 turns?

  • Hi all,

    Germany’s moves and battles on G1 need to be designed around your long term game plan.

    The options basically boil down to
    A) a single fast strike (London or Moscow)
    B) a more cautious and divergent strategy of economic and military supremacy.

    If Germany pursues A it’s Western border is weak, if they pursue B, The allies may have time to recover from their initial setbacks and weaknesses. This, I guess is at the heart of what makes the Axis fascinating to play.

    The problem I see in your essay is that you are trying to do too much. In this essay we have a submarine blockade from Norway to Africa, German cruisers in the Channel and Destroyers patrolling the Med. This is 3 very divergent strategies with no master plan bringing it together.

    The first place I would start is deciding where I want to be on turn 5. What is the purpose of this navy?

    1. Economic strangulation of Allies = build subs
    2. Sink US carriers = build subs
    3. Sink allied transports = build subs
    4. Keep allies out of med = build subs

    Given that it is entirely possible for the US to put together a 200 point fleet by turn 5, the Germans cannot maintain naval parity. a fleet of about 20 subs would be needed to achieve any significant results.

    I would say a few subs per turn here and there might catch the occasional player off guard

    If by turn 5 things are going well (income 60+) in Russia this could be ramped up to 5 subs per turn. However this could just as easily be 10 extra infantry per turn so you have to decide if its really worth it. Sometimes i completely ignore naval. If the Allies aren’t building enough escorts I might surprise them just to scare them away for a turn or two.

  • 2020 '19 '18 '17 '16

    Hi AxisAndAllies1940 and welcome to the Forum.

    You may wanna take a look into this fourm:

    Your thoughts and love for this game are welcomed.
    How many games did you play allready and where have you learned about this game and especially about this Forum?


  • TripleA

    I need to update my Germany playbook there are a few strategies I need to add… For those that like to Dow J3, they might be interested in Germany making a play for Egypt with naval and transports.

    The good old take southern France g1 take Gibraltar g2 and swing into the medit sea… You get can a big force to hit egypt.

    Obviously pushing Russia becomes slower so you buy Arty g2and g3 mech later, but if things go as planned the income for Europe will be really solid and g8 or g9 Russia will be a thing.

  • TripleA

    I always j1 Dow and play for faster games but if I were to do an income style game I would try it here n there.

  • I always like your playbooks, Cow!  I have seen the German Med strat work successfully for some of the top League players, although I have never mastered the nuances myself.

  • 2021 2020 '18 '17

    As a group we have laid out two “conventional” G1 buys:

    Germany Naval Strategic Defensive
    1 CV 2 TT

    Germany Dark Skies Strategic Offensive
    2 SB 1 Sub

    Both of these are great choices, especially if you just want to keep things simple and easy.

    Against stronger players, however, I have started to buy a few subs each round, and in some games, as many as I could afford and still send mechs a few tanks to Russia.

    Germany “needs to buy breathing room later” Strategic Defensive
    3 Sub 1 TT 1 infantry or 2 sub 2 tt 1 infantry (as an example)  a dd can fit in there too to contest the Russian NO.

    If you don’t buy any infantry, it comes off the stack that goes to the front.  So both of the pat buys don’t take this into account some men will have to be diverted to Norway or wherever.  It is very tempting to use the subs for economic warfare, do.  But their best role is sitting in SZ 105, 112, 93 etc. ready to hit SZ 91.  As long as you have your airforce intact and 5-6 subs lurking then they have to be very careful about when they cross to SZ 91, how that fleet is composed, and what UK is doing since it can’t go the water without getting shellacked.

  • 2020 '19 '18 '17

    It’s “Kriegsmarine”, not “Kreigsmarine” (German “Krieg” = “war”).

  • Dear AxisAndAllies1940,
    I started reading your essay, I am happy to read anything new about AA strategies.
    But did you ever played a game? This German sz-114-cruiser can’t reach any action in G1 except fighting the russian navy, but not the british one…

  • '17 '16 '13 '12

    I view the essays as para-historical entertainment from someone who contemplates the board waiting to find an opponent.

    Welcome to the forum and try the game online. It’s much more interesting than writing and speculating about the game. 😉

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