Naval Non-Combat Move
This is a long one, so I apologise for that.
So I originally came up with this rule for Global War '36-'45 (which I shall refer to as GW36), but I suppose it could be used for other games, please just bear that in mind if this seems incompatible to any one game you may be thinking of.
In GW36 each game round takes place in a 6 month period, Jan '36, Jul '36, Jan '37 and so on, and a lot of rules reflect that, such as build times for larger ships and facilities.
Â Â One thing that is difficult to accommodate for with this in mind, however, is that sometimes ships take a hugely unrealistic time to travel long distances, such as from Britain to Hong Kong, even going around the Horn of Africa at 10 knots, it doesn’t take 6 months to travel that distance. Trust me on this one.
As war gamers, we tend to think that any one combat move represents one engagement; a tank battle in Russia (Kursk), a naval clash in the Pacific (Midway), one strategic bombing raid (Dresden), D-Day.
Â Â But within the scope of GW36, this just isn’t the case. A land combat move is a 6 month campaign to capture a large segment of a country, or 6 months worth of uneventful naval patrols, skirmishes, hit-and-run attacks and straight up slugfests around a group of tiny islands you’ve never heard of. A bombing raid on a factory is a 6 month campaign to destroy one district of a city that happens to have some factories in it. Does this make sense?
I hope so, because I’m about to get to the point…
Naval Non-Combat should - with all that said - essentially be a Strategic Redeployment to anywhere in the world. No range limit, just do it. Even with some units having a 3 SZ movement range and perhaps one more for starting next to a naval base/shipyard, it takes a ridiculously long time to get from, say, San Francisco to Sydney. Some distances do literally take months, don’t get me wrong, but not six.
All nations should be able to do this, and almost all vessels (I haven’t discussed this with my gaming group (Kampfgruppe Dachboden) in detail yet) but I think that Costal Subs and TB Destroyers maybe shouldn’t, but even then I’m not sure.
There are some details though…
A fleet (or single ship, but I shall say fleet from now on), during the non-combat move, must trace a safe route from its starting SZ to its destination SZ. A Naval Redeployment may not be used through a SZ that has seen combat, as both moves are happening within the same 6 month period, so a lane can’t be cleared for the main force. It also may not travel through a SZ if:
A nation that it is at war with has any combat vessels present, including subs, or has a Combat Air Patrol over the SZ.
Transports do not block Naval Redeployment. These vessels can, and indeed must, be ignored by the transiting fleet, but the fleet may transit through a SZ with enemy transports. A fleet may not conduct a Naval Redeployment into a SZ with any enemy vessels.
One limitation I have thought of, is that a fleet must pass by a SZ with an operational friendly naval facility per Naval AO (Area of Operations), I would, for this rule, count 6 different areas as Naval AO’s. The north and south Atlantic, the Med, the Indian Ocean, and the north and south Pacific. So a fleet going from New York to Bombay would need to pass by a naval base in the South Atlantic or the Med (if heading east) or the north or south Pacific, if heading west. A fleet does not need to visit a facility in the Naval AO it ends the move in.
In GW36, Naval Bases and Shipyards can not be used by a player that they do not own or are not aligned with, so a UK player cannot use a US naval facility. Quite honestly, unless I have misunderstood something, I think that is a daft rule, and for Naval Redeployment to work, this has to be disregarded.
I like this limitation because it allows, for example, Germany to Redeploy within the north Atlantic, but not suddenly have their entire navy show up off of Midway after a Japanese invasion, knowing that the Germans will - basically - teleport. The limitation allows essentially for fuel limitations.
That’s as far as I’ve got with regards to rules. I’m not sure on a few points, but I do think that this House Rule will benefit the game, as it demands more strategic thinking, an enemy fleet might pop up unannounced right next to a vulnerable spot because you can no longer predict where they can go, but as it is a non-combat move, it does allow a response before any actual combat. I feel this also adds a degree of realism.
Â Â It also allows for more subs to be built, as at the moment, subs can block Naval Redeployment, and I feel that subs aren’t used as much as they actually were during the war. One sub, loitering in a SZ next to a naval facility, becomes a huge headache for a fleet that needs to get somewhere fast. And a string of subs or destroyers can prevent an Operation Rheinubung type of operation.
I’m sure someone will find a loophole or a blatant mistake, but that’s the way it goes.
Good post. That is a serious bit of thinking there .
I hope you can get your play group to agree to it. Makes sense to me.
Almost immediately I found mistakes in my own rules…
1. Subs cannot block subs.
2. In fact, no ships can block subs, but Combat Air Patrols can.
3. Closed canals block Redeployment.
4. Closed straits block Redeployment. (I do not actually like the fact that straits can close, and would normally disregard that rule, but I’ve discussed this in another post).
5. Major Powers not at war with any one other Major Power, may use their naval facilities if given permission. e.g. Japan may use a US East Coast facility if only at war with China, as long as the US player gives them permission.
6. In keeping with GW36 rules, any damage to a naval facility negates it’s use for Naval Redeployment.
7. A naval facility must be available in the Naval AO that the fleet begins its move in.
8. Naval Redeployment does not restrict a units ability to move its normal allowance during a non-combat move if Redeployment is unavailable.
I’m sure someone will find a loophole or a blatant mistake, but that’s the way it goes.
I don’t know if this qualifies as a loophole – but for whatever it’s worth, here’s something that puzzles me. If I understand the concept correctly, it’s based on the premise that one game round represents six months of time; on the basis, the concept proposes that ships be allowed (with some limitations) to travel as far as a ship could realistically travel in six months, which is assumed to be to any point of the world; this, as a result, “will benefit the game, as it demands more strategic thinking, an enemy fleet might pop up unannounced right next to a vulnerable spot because you can no longer predict where they can go, but as it is a non-combat move, it does allow a response before any actual combat.” The question this raises (at least to my mind) is: why should this only apply to ships? Why wouldn’t any type of unit – land, sea or air – be allowed to move as far as it could realistically travel in six months, and thus why wouldn’t any type of unit be allowed to pop up on the other side of the world (with some limitations)? Airplanes, which move a lot faster than ships, certainly ought to be allowed to do it under the 6-month premise of the concept. Even land units, arguably, ought to be able to do it, if you take into consideration the fact that there’s a difference between battlefield mobility (for instance, a tank moving on its own power in combat) and strategic/operational mobility (for instance, a tank being transported by ship across an ocean or by rail across long land distances), which is a distinction that applies to all land units as far as I know (even infantry).
Good points, well made, and thank you for your input.
Just to be clear, and hopefully so that I don’t sound condescending, (if I do, I apologise in advance), have you read the rules for Global War 1936-1945? You are right in your observations, and I did appreciate your distinction between tactical and strategic movement, but those differences are covered in the rules for GW36. I’ll try to keep this one brief, and I shall answer assuming that you have not read the rules for GW36 which vary massively from any Axis and Allies, even Global 1940.
Land units: By themselves, land units can move 1 or 2 spaces, I understand any land unit to be a division - or at the very least, a brigade - and moving a whole tank division under its own power is no small task, it may not take 6 months to move 1 armoured division from Scotland to London (2 spaces), but by and large, I find that land units moving under their own power move realistically enough for me.
There is, however, an allowance for, as you have described it, strategic movement.
Very quickly, the map has most land territories with rail tracks crisscrossing all over them, during non-combat, a certain number of land units may move any distance along these tracks, assuming certain conditions are met. The limit depends on where in the world the units are, 4 in Europe, 2 in Russia, the UK and USA, and I think Japan, and 1 in a couple of other places, I’m not 100% on that.
So, an entire Russian armoured division, supplied from the USA to Vladivostok, can move the whole way to Moscow, from Vladivostok, in one Russian non combat move, along the tracks. (This is, in fact, an example used in the rulebook for GW36).
Air units: Basically, there is no provision for strategic movement for air units, and move characteristics are roughly similar to A&A. It actually never occurred to me to make a similar rule for air units, so I suppose, as long as they weren’t flying over enemy AA or aircraft, there’s no reason not to use the same rule, except, for details such as air bases instead of naval, and Areas of Operation as ‘continents’ instead of ‘oceans’ (I do know that the Med is not an ocean, btw :-P) etc…
I could go on, but I promised to try to keep this short.
The rules for Global War 1936-1945 are available as a free PDF. If you haven’t read them, I highly recommend you give them a look, they fix a lot of problems I personally have with A&A. (But obviously I can never be fully satisfied).
I hope that cleared up any issues.
Thanks for the detailed explanation and for the reference to the GW rules, which indeed I’m not familiar with. My comments basically revolved around the argument that if ships can move to any point of the game map to any other point of the game map in one round, then the same ought to be true for aircraft and possibly ought to be true for land units too. Your reference to the GW rules explains why this wouldn’t actually be the case for land units, which is fair enough. I guess my remaining question has to do with the “if ships can move [that way]” premise in and of itself, which I’ll explain by making reference to the concrete example of Russian naval history.
Historically, Russian naval power has always faced a difficult challenge: the fact that Russia’s huge size and (from a naval perspective) awkward geography has meant that it’s had to operate four separate fleets that are largely cut off from each other: one in the Baltic, one in the Black Sea, one in the White Sea, and one in the Pacific. This already complicated picture is further complicated by the fact that some of these waters are icy in wintertime (or even completely frozen over, which is why Russia’s theoretical Northeast Passage is of little practical value), a factor which partially explains why Russia has sometimes dreamed of extending its territory southward towards the Arabian Sea to gain a warm-water coastline.
If moving ships – particularly fleets of warships – from one side of the planet to the other in just six months was easy to do, the geographic problems I’ve mentioned would never have bothered the Russians. Instead, we would have seen them shuffling fleets from Europe to the Pacific and back again as the need arose. To my knowledge, that’s never happened routinely. The closest historical equivalent can be found in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905, during which Russia tried to reinforce its Pacific Fleet (which got clobbered by the Japanese at Port Arthur and in the Battle of the Yellow Sea) by sending the Baltic Fleet halfway around the world. The journey, which took seven months, was a nightmare for everyone involved; Richard Hough’s book “The Fleet That Had To Die” will give you a good description of what that trip was like, and its title will give you a hint of what happened to the Russian fleet when it finally reached Tsushima Straight, where Admiral Togo was waiting for it.
In fairness, that cruise was hampered by two factors that could be discounted in a WWII setting: the ships were coal-fired (thus much slower and messier to refuel than oil-fired ships), and Russia’s leaders insisted on sending almost every ship in their inventory which could float; as a result, the fleet was an incoherent bric-a-brac of vessels which had to sail at the speed of the slowest unit. My point, however, is that round-the-world redeployments of naval forces in wartime isn’t a trivial operation. Teddy Roosevelt’s pre-WWII Great White Fleet did circle the globe, but that was a peacetime publicity stunt and it took, as I recall, a whole year. A more modern and applicable example would be WWII’s Force Z, which Churchill sent from Europe to Singapore (though, in echoes of what happened to the Russians at Tsushima, Force Z’s two major units – Prince of Wales and Repulse – ended up being sunk by a Japanese air attack).
Note that by the end of WWII the US Navy did have huge forces in the Pacific, and that many of those ships had been built in East Coast shipyards, so that does represent an enormous round-the-world deployment…but that deployment took place over the course of the war, and in the case of many ships it was probably conducted in stages rather than through a one-shot cruise.
I’m glad I cleared your principle concern and I do take your point with regards to world-wide naval redeployments. I think, from a purely historical perspective, I do have to concede that what I am proposing does require a suspension of disbelief. Even today, that sort of operation is incredibly difficult to plan for, let alone execute, (although it is only a concern for the USA at the time of writing).
If I may touch on your examples, my limited understanding is that thanks to the Dogger Bank incident, the British closed the Suez Canal to the Russian fleet, which they were hoping to do anyway. The Brits had recently signed treaties with Japan against Russia, so Dogger Bank just gave them a pretext, which has always made me wonder if the British had something to do with the whole mess. So, on top of the two other major problems you previously mentioned, the required transit distance was increased by thousands of kilometres. Had that not happened, I still think the Japanese would have just as easily and completely annihilated the Russian fleet, but every little helps.
The Great White Fleet and Force Z are good examples too, although Force Z was defeated largely by lack of air cover, not so much to do with logistical challenges, again, as far as I am aware. I agree that this sort of thing is likely done in stages, as you mentioned in your last paragraph, not as one trip only stopping for food and fuel, but I did consider that for the House Rule.
As for the colossal US naval builds and deployments, again I think you are correct. In GW36, to build cruisers and light carriers takes 18 months and battleships and fleet carriers take 2 years, that is, 3 and 4 game rounds respectively, so that aspect doesn’t detract from reality when taking my House Rule into account, IMO.
Ultimately, I do agree that the whole thing is a little hard to swallow, but a ship can travel from Liverpool to Bombay, through the Med, and it still takes 1 year in game time. I think if each nation gets 1 Naval Redeployment per turn, things become much less fantastic. I had to try to balance realism with the in game mechanics to address something that I felt was a bit odd, and it can’t be 100% believable, but we are talking about a board game that has to make it at least feasible for the Axis to win the Second World War, which I believe to be a total impossibility.